Many times, it can seem easiest to launch new programs shortly after annual planning or on a day that recognizes the initiative, like Innovation Day. But you don’t have to wait until the new year to get innovation going in your company. You can have an innovation day at any time, even on a random Wednesday! Here’s how.
Before Innovation Day – Prepare!
The first step to launching an innovation day is planning. Determine the purpose of the day. Is your organization facing a major challenge? Do you need to come up with a new product? Or do you just need to spend a day focusing on brainstorming new directions for the company’s next step?
The next part of the planning phase is to present the idea to major stakeholders and let them know the many benefits of having an innovation day. Usually, new ideas and innovations come from the bottom up in a company. An innovation day allows you to tap your own employees’ creativity. You’ll be amazed what they come up with! Because they are on the front lines daily, they’ll have completely different insights than the leadership team, and it can bring incredible breakthroughs in a short time.
Once everyone is on board, pick a date and publicize it to your staff. Assign a team to coordinate the event, including judges for the presentations that come at the end of the day. Consider setting up a whiteboard where everyone can write ideas and comments leading up to the event. Create energy and excitement about the innovation day.
On Innovation Day – Play and Create!
Innovation day has arrived, and everyone is excited! It’s important that there be a structure in place so that everyone knows what’s expected. Break staff into teams and assign them a problem to solve. Multiple teams can even work on the same problem, which will encourage them to innovate even more so their team’s idea “wins”!
Structure work time with breaks. It’s well known that creativity flourishes when people relax and play. Something about unstructured free time activates the brains innovative area and brings new ideas to the front. You might even start with an hour of games and then move into the focused teamwork.
Finally, at the end of the day, each team gives a three to five-minute presentation of their solution to the judges. Set up rewards, even for those ideas that don’t get chosen to implement. You can have “most creative” or “highest cost-savings” awards, to reward all great ideas.
After Innovation Day – Implement!
There’s almost nothing more demoralizing to employees than to be asked for ideas and then see nothing done with them. It’s vitally important that the ideas chosen for implementation be put in place as quickly as possible. Whether it’s the solution to a problem or a new product or service, move forward to carry out the plan.
It’s especially helpful if it is easy for the team to implement the plan. Make it fun! Create a drawing or map on the wall to show the process. Make an animal or the ever-classic thermometer and color it in to show progress. Over time, the team will see the changes that the innovation day produced, which will only make them more excited to participate next time.
Innovation days are not intended to be a one-time event. Scheduling time regularly for your team to work together to solve problems faced by the company is a benefit for everyone. Consider doing this semi-annually or even quarterly. You’ll be amazed by the tremendous buy-in everyone will have to make the changes work. People naturally invest in changes they help create, and you’ll get far less push-back as your company innovates to meet the demands of business.
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