Is Your Innovation Management Process Inclusive?

process inclusive

Working together means expanding your definition of “together.”

Inclusivity is vital across any organization. But it’s particularly important for innovation, and will only become more so as society goes through new shifts and as your organization changes. Your innovation strategy should reflect it.

What Is Inclusivity?

Inclusivity, at its most basic, is ensuring your organization’s approaches reflect the perspective of everyone in a society, especially those who are generally marginalized or otherwise ignored. Consider how your team gets to work. Is your office accessible on foot, by bicycle, and by public transport, or does anybody you hire need to have access to a car in order to take a job you offer? Would you have picked a different location if you’d spoken to people who couldn’t afford, or perhaps didn’t want, a car?

Inclusivity at its most basic is simply forward thinking from as many perspectives as possible. Race, class, mobility, emotional, social, and cultural are the most common, but there will be as many perspectives as you have members of your organization, and this will also include the communities you touch. If you’re about to introduce a product, what effects will it have on those communities?

Some of these effects will be theoretical or impossible to anticipate. The automakers of the early 20th century wouldn’t have been able to predict all the effects of cheaper cars, the environmental effects of burning gasoline, or social mobility across the decades. Inclusivity, however, offers more perspectives and ideas to ensure your impact is positive.

How to expand your look at the world?

How To Be Inclusive?

The key to being inclusive is to ask questions of as many groups as possible that will be affected by your actions and to listen closely to the answers. For example, if you’re constructing a new headquarters, you might speak to representatives of the town in which you’re building and your future neighbors about the impacts of construction. When drafting plans, you might speak with disability advocates about accessibility and local citizens about transit impacts. And of course, there are your own employees, who should be asked what they want out of the office and what will make it a better place to work.

Remember that innovation is driven by embracing different perspectives in a respectful fashion. This is where close listening is particularly important. You may hear wildly different approaches to the same challenge, and you will need to consider how best to address them all. You cannot, of course, please everybody, but every group has something to offer for innovation, and anybody who sincerely wants to address a problem is valuable, inside or outside your organization. Local environmentalists, for example, might guide you toward more socially responsible materials or cost-saving green design.

If all this sounds complicated, rest assured that it is. Many organizations will struggle at first, not least because you’re often building a basis of understanding between your business and a community with which you may not have interacted before. That will be a sometimes complicated process. Yet inclusivity at its most basic is innovation: finding, listening to, and incorporating many different perspectives on challenges and opportunities. To learn how we can help, contact us today. 

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