IDEASCALE BLOG

Tag: culture

What is an Employee Satisfaction Survey?

employee satisfaction surveyAn employee satisfaction survey is a powerful tool that the Human Resource department in general and managers in particular use to understand the level of satisfaction of the employees associated with the respective organization. It’s a closed form of crowdsourcing that can inform your internal innovation strategy.

This survey provides management with a direction that is useful for them to make informed decisions based on the information and data obtained and the probable measures they will need to take if the responses to the survey and not quite appropriate.

As an organization, if you want to grow your business then, you must understand that your organization is not a square where employees will come, work and leave. You are not training robots, you have employed human beings and they have a certain level of emotional quotient. Each person in your organization will react differently to the things happening in the organization.

Therefore, it is important for you to collect information that is not only accurate but also up to date. The best way to measure, analyze and gain insights into this emotion is through the employee satisfaction survey. The most important attribute of this survey are the questions that are asked. These survey questions will determine the kind and rate of response. Make sure the questions are accurate and to the point.

Learn more: FREE Employee Satisfaction Survey Questions Template

Top 5 Employee Satisfaction Survey Questions

Following employee satisfaction survey questions will help you collect information and data related to the levels of satisfaction in your organization:

  1. Considering your overall experience with the organization, on a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend the organization to your family and friends?

The most powerful question that you cannot afford to miss is the employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) question, this question not only helps understand the satisfaction level of your employees but also measure their loyalty towards the organization.

  1. Is it clear to you what your role is in meeting the organization’s objective?

Is it important to understand if an employee is in tandem with the organization’s objective and his/her role in achieving it?

  1. Do you enjoy being a part of this organization?

If an employee enjoys his/her tasks at work and is happy to be a part of the organization, then work is carried out with ease and efficiency.

  1. Do you struggle to obtain relevant information from your team members?

It is essential to ask this question as it is important to know if there are any roadblocks that an employee is facing and if that is hampering his/her motivation and satisfaction level at work.

  1. If something unusual comes up do you know, whom to approach for the solution?

When an employee has the clarity about whom to approach for a solution and suggestions half the task is done. It is important organizations have a transparent culture that will help employees seek proper guidance.

Last but not least, implementation plays the most important role. If you are deploying a survey and employees are responding to that survey, you are bound to collect a lot of relevant data. But if you are not going to implement the suggestions and address employee grievances, then the entire purpose of conducting these surveys is defeated. The key here is, obtain information, implement suggestions and increase satisfaction.

Learn more: Hacker’s Guide to Culture Management

How to Keep Your Creative Team Fresh & Inspired

Creativity is about more than just art.

Creativity is how we get great innovation, but encouraging creativity in a structured environment, like work, can be a bit tricky. Fortunately, with a little creativity of your own, you can get the ideas flowing. Here are a few ways to encourage creativity as part of your innovation strategy.

Issue A Challenge

The proverb that necessity is the mother of invention has always been true, but it overlooks something important: People embrace challenges. Anything you find on the shelf at a store was invented because somebody was challenged to overcome a problem. So, think of challenges you can issue to your team. These don’t have to be product-related, either. Challenge them to think like a new customer who doesn’t know they need your services. Challenge them to use your product in a new way. Or even challenge them to do something totally unrelated. Sweeten the pot with a prize, like an extra week of vacation or a few shares of company stock.

Encourage Both Cooperation And Competition

As long as it’s friendly, competition is no bad thing, and encouraging friendly competition is a good way to get ideas. But don’t forget that some of your team will thrive not by working against each other, but with each other. Encourage them to team up, especially across departments and disciplines.

Balance Structure And Freedom

There will, alas, always be meetings in any industry. But there’s a difference between a meeting where people need to get the information, answer the questions, and get out the door, and a meeting about sharing ideas. Think of creativity like changing the course of a mighty river; it’s a lot easier to gently guide it towards a direction on the horizon than force it to make a sharp turn it may not want to head in. Allow creativity meetings to go with the flow and leave behind the agenda.

Creativity is as much about environment as it is about ideas.

Support Multidisciplinary Learning

It’s often forgotten today that the real value of an education is the skills to think critically and the ability to learn different sets of tools to apply to different types of problems. When people have to step out of their usual way of doing things, it tends to spark creativity. Having methods on hand, such as online courses or tuition remission, for your employees to learn new skills and new approaches, will give them new ways to approach old problems.

Be Creative With The Necessary Stuff

There’s no law that says every meeting must be held in a conference room, or that every worker must discuss creativity between 4 and 5 on Tuesdays. Applying creativity to the small things can help your team develop creative approaches to your challenges. For example, instead of having a meeting about creativity in the conference room, have a “walking” meeting when you take a hike as a group, or have the meeting outside, or even just have it in a more unstructured space.

There’s no perfect way to ensure every employee is creative. As you’ve seen here, you’ll often need to be a little creative to get each person to that place. But the rewards will be enormous, and not just for your company; creativity will be great for your team, personally and professionally. To learn more, join our newsletter!

 

Values & Communication for Nonprofits

Values and Communication for NonprofitsToday we continue our discussion of the opportunities presented for innovation in the nonprofit sector, by looking at two other ways to influence innovation capabilities.

Promote innovation as an organizational value

Making innovation one of the primary concerns for the organization would be very beneficial for keeping up with the demands of the ever-changing scenarios nonprofits face on a daily basis. Placing innovation as a prime focus and not as side responsibility or allowing it to fall on a second plane is vital as teams that are dedicated to innovation have seen much better results in their innovation processes. There is a tendency in business to assign the innovation tasks to someone who already carries a lot on their plates, leading to innovation falling behind in both funding and importance.

Creativity cannot be forced, however when the organization and the people get themselves in the right mindset; the frame is set for a truly innovative experience where there is a real exchange of ideas to find imaginative solutions. Looking back at last week’s post, I discussed how passionate people with a shared interest could be beneficial for the organization. Adding people who believe in the cause and want to improve the organization will be most helpful to introducing innovation in the organization since working alongside someone who is passionate, friendly, and driven is much more pleasant. In this video, the United Way innovation team speaks about their innovation process, showing how important it is to have innovation as an organizational value. 

Clear communication within the organization

Communication, whether written or spoken, is the basis of any activity within the organization, ranging from planning, ideating, or implementing. Communicating effectively is essential for organizations as they seek to promote unity among all parties involved in the nonprofit. Nonprofits often act internationally or over an extensive geographical space and struggle with effective communication. The lack of clear communication is a generator for many significant problems that could pop up in an organization like uncoordinated action and ineffective operations. On the other hand, excellent communication will increase the organization’s productivity, decrease employee turnover, and improve the atmosphere in the workspace. Keeping a transparent and open stream of communication within the organization will help keep people connected, and will improve the attitude because an informed worker tends to have a better position than an uninformed one. A good example of this can be seen with the DREAMS innovation challenge case study, where the challenge acted internationally and was lead by a partnership between many organizations still managed to be successful in creating a good crowdsourced list of great ideas. 

Innovation in nonprofits is hard, but the very nature of the problems faced demand it. As we have seen in this series, nonprofits face important challenges that are in constant change and require innovation. At the same time, nonprofits, due to their complexity, have inherent issues with innovation. As innovation is a necessity, there are many ways of promoting it to solve the most pressing challenges within the organization.

This blog is part of a three-part series focusing on opportunities for innovation in the nonprofit sector, authored by our Accounts Fellow, Aaron Shildrick. Read the previous blog posts, which discuss the problems to be solved in the nonprofit sector as well a other best practices for innovation success in the nonprofit sector. 

What Makes Switzerland a Leader in Innovation?

Switzerland a Leader in InnovationSwitzerland takes the first place in the rating of the World Intellectual Property Organization on the level of innovation development. This is the sixth time that the country has achieved the top five. This year, Sweden takes the second place, while Great Britain takes the third one. How have they achieved these results? Here are five reasons for their success

They are a nation of inventors

Switzerland is a global leader due to their level of scientific knowledge and their ability to launch technologies into consumables for the market.  Switzerland has a commanding lead on the number of patents of inventions in relation to population. There were 873 patent license applications per million of inhabitants in Switzerland back in the year 2015. The Netherlands took the second place (419/1 mln), Sweden took the third (392/1 mln).

Switzerland has some world class R&D establishments

Swiss universities appear to be some of the leading institutions on a regular basis. For example, Lake Of Zurich High Technical School appeared was the fourth place University right behind Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London in Times Higher Education World Reputation Ranking rating back in the year 2016.

Switzerland also offers an opportunity to develop research and development, innovation centers and technoparks throughout the country, because there is constant collaboration between educational institutions, universities and the private sector.

Transnational corporations provide sources of venture capital

Swiss pharmaceutical giants as Roche and Novartis are some of the biggest in Switzerland research and development centers, spending huge budgets for R&D aims. Keeping and developing close contact ties between business, authorities, venture capital, small and medium-sized business, innovational startups, universities and R&D establishments, Roche and Novartis appear to be the leading drivers of innovation development both in Switzerland and in the world.

Focus on green economy

A solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 Swiss plane recently attracted the attention of the whole world. When asked what it was needed for, project managers answered that “the plane was built to get a very simple but very important message across peoples’ mind: the resources of our planet are limited. In the future, humankind is going to need other power technologies of high quality … Clean technologies and power production should become a part of this solution.”

A solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 Swiss plane is just one example from a range of projects targeted at the development of power technologies of a new generation. The majority of Swiss technology companies place a great deal of focus on issues connected with the development of renewable energy resources. There is even a special reward in order to encourage innovations in this area in Switzerland called WattD`Or. However, all these advanced technologies should, as a result, take on a form of products, outlets and technologies, commercially successful and in-demand.

Educated workers

Switzerland ranked high for: knowledge-intensive employment. Perhaps this a result of their dual education system and the pull of Switzerland itself for highly qualified workers.

If you liked this post, you might want to learn how to bring the Silicon Valley magic to your organization. 

This is a guest post by Melisa Marzett, who is a freelance author living in Phoenix, Arizona and currently working for Smart Essay Rewriter. Also, she has been a ballerina, a singer, and a piano player. She does her writing best in coffee shops. SShe believes that women are as good at writing as men are and deserve to be worldwide famous and awarded with literary prizes.

Is Your Company Culture Anti-Innovation?

Anti-InnovationIn a recent article from Harvard Business Review, researchers reported that one of the most common barriers to innovation is internal politics. But the second most commonly cited barrier was cultural issues. When we looked at that response, we were wondering how a company culture might be inhospitable to innovation and we looked at some of our most commonly reported customer reported obstacles for an answer.

Lack of Time for Innovation

This was the major barrier for most of our customers. This usually means that innovation goals are not a dedicated practice, but something that employees are expected to do in addition to their other existing responsibilities. Making space for experimental activities can have enormously positive consequences for new ideas – most famously Google’s 20% rule (employees spend 80% of their time on the job they were hired for but have freedom to spend 20% of their time on any other project they want) – after all gmail was a 20% time project originally. Can you make innovation someone’s dedicated role and can you give other employees more flexibility in their job description?

No Support from Senior Management for New Ideas

A passion for new ideas and a tolerance for risk starts at the top. Does senior leadership reward new bets and do they celebrate lessons learned from ideas that fail to launch? If you’ve got an innovation program at your company, but no one associates it with the company leadership it’s unlikely to be seen as a company mandate. So when you launch a program, make sure that your CEO or other leaders are part of your messaging strategy.

No Process for Managing Ideas and Testing Concepts

Maybe your leadership is totally bought in, maybe your team has the freedom to test and share new concepts… but if there’s no process to actually do so, it’s unlikely that those ideas will make it to launch. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest problems to solve. If you have some team members dedicated to continuous innovation, they can start by architecting an initial process and then iterate and improve that process over time.

No Budget

No surprise that a lack of budget would be a barrier for innovation. New ideas need resources. If you’re not finding some room in the budget to prototype and learn, you’re not likely to keep pace with the changing market. We often recommend to our customers that they look for process improvement innovations that will save money first and then re-investing that savings into more experimental concepts in the next round.

Lessons About Culture and Creativity

One of our customers recently had the good fortune to hear Adam Grant speak at an event. Adam Grant “has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for seven straight years. He is a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, and live more generous and creative lives. He has been recognized as one of the world’s 10 most influential management thinkers” and in this presentation, he shared some insights that resonated with both our customers and with us. Take a look:

4 out of 5 people do not share their great ideas with anyone. This can happen for a number of reasons: they don’t know with whom or how to share their idea, they don’t believe that their idea is a good one, they’re shy – there are many barriers to overcome. With all of those great ideas out there, how do we help them overcome those barriers? One way is by making the place and process for sharing ideas obvious to anyone – no matter who they are in a company. Where do all the ideas go (good and bad)?

Avoid cultures where leaders say “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions” – You WANT people to let you know when there are problems. This is something that we recommend to our customers all the time (especially as a launch campaign) – start by asking for problems and bring all the power of crowdsourcing to bare on it – let others bring new perspective to it, let the crowd vote and prioritize the problems they think are most pressing, and go from there. And even then, you want to be really clear on the problem, its limits and capabilities before you start asking for solutions. You can hear more about this in our “developing problem statements” webinar.

It takes 10-20 exposures to an idea before the listener (often the leader) ‘hears it.’ This rule of thumb applies to almost anything. Marketers are told that someone has to see a message at least seven times, before they’ll interact with it. I’d guess that 10-20 impressions is even more accurate, because all of us are exposed to so many messages every day, that we’ve become filters more than funnels for information. That’s why good ideas need a place to live and a communication plan to go with them and advocates who will support them.

For those of you who haven’t had the chance to download our infographic detailing meaningful innovation lessons from Adam Grant’s Originals, you can find it here. 

2018 Innovation Learning Priorities

2018 Innovation Learning PrioritiesEvery year, IdeaScale asks its customers what they’re focused on learning this year. This information becomes the backbone of our content calendar for the rest of the year for both our customers and prospects: it informs what we blog about, what white papers we research, what sessions we feature at Open Nation, and more. This year, we were somewhat surprised at the top three study priorities that innovators are focused on, but it’s also what you can expect to learn about at Open Nation 2018.

Community Engagement Strategies. Well, actually, there’s no surprise here. This subject is one of the leading themes every year. The good news is that so many engagement strategies are evergreen and can be used time after time, but there’s always something new to try every year (whether it’s a new channel for outreach or a new incentive structure that works better for public sector organizations). It’s a subject that we’ll probably always write about, because if a company can succeed in its communications strategy, it’s far more likely to succeed in its innovation program.

Innovation Metrics and ROI. Now this subject was a surprise finalist this year and in our deeper dive into the subject matter, it’s become even more complex. Innovation metrics and ROI can mean very different things to different companies or even to different people within the same program. For this year, we’re focusing on innovation program metrics (outlined in this infographic) and then also introducing the concept of firmer, longer-term metrics that companies can track after the launch of a new program, product, or service.

Implementation Strategies. This is probably the theme that we were happiest to see appear in our top three. We think that the fact that this is a key concern for innovators this year means that innovation programs are maturing to the point that ideation is no longer enough. Lots of organizations start out simply by asking for ideas – they just want to brainstorm and fill their innovation pipeline. Ideas, however, don’t make you more innovative – it’s the follow- through that defines an organization. So we’ll be focusing on implementation strategies like how to assemble resources, how to make the case for new ideas, how to plan for implementation and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about these themes, consider joining us at Open Nation in Berkeley on October 25th this year. We’ll be discussing all of these topics and more.

What about you? What are you focused on learning this year?

What You Need to Know About Crowdsourcing

What You Need to Know About CrowdsourcingIt’s June and that means it’s thesis season! Every spring at IdeaScale, we start receiving requests from undergraduate and graduate students around the globe who are researching crowdsourcing and its potential application in the business world. It is fascinating to hear their project titles and pitches and we try and take the opportunity to share as much information as we can from our IdeaScale resources. But we thought we’d document some of the most common questions below to tell you what you need to know about crowdsourcing.

What are the benefits of crowdsourcing?

There are lots of reasons that someone might use crowdsourcing, but we actually ask our customers and visitors why it was that they turned to crowdsourcing and though the order of reasons has some variability each year – the answers themselves remain fairly consistent. Here are just a few of them:

  • The Need for More or Better Ideas. Ideas are the life blood of innovation. If you don’t have a continuous pipeline of quality ideas, then you’re not going to be able to maintain a rapid pace of change. That’s why tapping into the crowd makes ideas a virtually renewable resource. The more people you ask, the more ideas you have. But you have to continue to ask for participation and you should always be looking for more diversity in your audience.
  • Aligning and De-duplicating Efforts. If you have a global or large-scale organization, you want the success in one area to be multiplied fifty-fold. That’s when small ideas can have groundbreaking impact. Crowdsourcing allows knowledge transfer to be real time and validated at scale.
  • Not Enough Resources to Create Change. Many innovators are working on their own and don’t have sufficient resources or authority to create change on their own. Crowdsourcing allows them to find new allies, validate ideas, and broadcast change organization-wide.

What are the stages of innovation?

Like so many of our answers, the stages of innovation vary customer to customer. Some use Agile methodology, some use design thinking, but whatever method they’re using, we see that there are a few distinct activities associated with innovation and that’s how we created our IdeaScale stages. Here they are described most broadly but these stages can be edited, re-ordered or modified by anyone:

  • Strategy. Understanding the problem and developing a plan for action. Do you have a process in place? Who will you reach out to?
  • Ideation. Although some customers will introduce some initial criteria or questions, this is the most open part of the innovation process where any idea can be shared, built on, and inspire others.
  • Refinement. Some build proposals, some start aligning ideas to programs elsewhere in the company, but in this stage ideas become more than fragments and start becoming more robust solutions.
  • Evaluation. At some point, ideas are evaluated for their potential merit, feasbility, etc. Ideas are evaluated to prioritize the allocation of resources. After all, you don’t have budget for everything, so where can you make a reasonable bet to get a valuable return? We did a whole webinar on this subject alone.
  • Prototyping. This is when teams begin to build a minimum viable trial to get some initial findings that can be applied to a broader release. Some people use digital prototyping services like TopCoder for this.
  • Launch. Those findings inform a more strategic build out that will eventually result in an implemented idea. This means a new process adopted, a new product launch, a new business model introduced. But only ideas that get to this stage become innovation.

What’s your advice on building an innovation culture?

Wow. This is a big, broad question. We’ve seen different programs of all types succeed – even in places where innovation culture was a challenge. But there are a few things that we might offer as advice to improve innovation culture and crowdsourcing success.

  • You have to be willing to hear from anyone. This sometimes requires a cultural shift as people often think that the HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) always provides the best idea. Although that might be true, many of the best ideas originated at the bottom or middle. Be willing to hear everyone’s voice on equal ground – and crowdsourcing allows you to prove the value of an idea no matter where it comes from.
  • You have to be willing to live with failure. Not just live with it; celebrate it! Failure shows a tolerance for risks which will also lead to big wins. Failures also represent lessons learned and an investment in your employees. If people don’t fear failure, they’re more likely to try new ideas and make suggestions. So when you’re showcasing success, also celebrate the lessons learned and the boldness of a failure.
  • Make at least one person responsible for innovation. We haven’t seen an innovation program survive that doesn’t have at least one person at the helm. After all, if everyone is responsible, it means that no one is responsible.
  • Align your innovation program with a business need. If there’s a need, then the solution that aligns to it is that much more likely to see the light of day. Delivering on ideas is the best way to build faith in a crowdsourced innovation program. So try to bring your crowd in sync with your business needs.
  • Develop a communications strategy. Don’t just send an email. Start by sending one email and then try numerous other channels, messages, and times to reach your audience as well. We have a whole webinar on this subject, too, but since crowdsourcing is inherently social, you definitely need to have a strong communications plan to go with it.

So those are our notes until next year. Let us know what other questions we can help you answer.

 

What Makes an Organization Innovative?

Is your organization innovative? We’d likely all think ‘yes’ without hesitation. But in truth, what makes an organization an innovator, whether it’s a non-profit attacking a problem from new angles or a private company looking for a leg up on its competitors, is more than a question; it’s a set of skills to be cultivated, from the team in the trenches to the leaders at the top.

What’s Your Culture?

One of the big surprises when it comes to innovation is that even a great, healthy culture can have unexpected roadblocks to innovation. For example, when was the last time the team sat down and talked about the ideas or concerns customers had, however minor? If profits are good, people are happy, and the business is humming along, often nobody wants to seem like they’re raining on the parade. In fact, even when things are terrible, you usually need to encourage people to speak up and offer some ideas to help.

Or what about the mechanics of ideas from employees? What happens if an employee comes to their manager with an idea for improving an internal process, coming up with a new product, or bringing your current products to a new customer base? Are they encouraged or rewarded? Does the idea move up the chain to somebody who can act on it? And if this isn’t something that happens, why doesn’t it?

Innovation is easy to pay lip service to, but it’s hard to actually build into any company, no matter how fresh and nimble it might be. That’s why it pays to consider how to make your company more innovative, and how to build it into every step.

Building In Innovation

Really, the key forces of innovation are in two places: At the top, and where the rubber meets the road in your industry. There is nobody who knows your place in the industry better or what your customers are interested in more clearly than your team. They talk to customers daily. They use the product, and they field praise and complaints. And they probably have ideas, however raw, that can be refined into a better product.

Similarly, at the top, there needs to be leadership. Innovative companies make it clear they want ideas, that the door is open and there’s always a friendly ear for changes, then they’ll start to come in. It’s easy to forget that walking up to a door with CEO on the front and knocking on it is hard when it’s not your door. So make sure there’s a place to knock, for everyone.

Finally, it’s about both internal and external processes. Innovation is as much about those outside looking at the forest as it is those up close studying the trees, and companies with strong innovative strategies look for both perspectives. By having both teams looking at the horizon and looking at the details, both inside and outside the company, you’ll get a better idea of just where your industry is going, and how you can get there first.

Innovation, as you can see, is hard work. But it doesn’t have to be work you do alone. Request a demo to see how IdeaScale can help you build a better innovation strategy.

The Value of an Innovation Mentor

value of an innovation mentor

Lots of businesses utilize mentors – from start-ups to the Fortune 500 and they’re using them for a variety of performance goals. They’ve found that more employees have a positive experience if they’re mentored, but business owners have even reported higher revenues and more growth if they’ve received mentoring.

So, in the age of business mentors, some customers are asking “what’s the potential value of an innovation mentor?” We see three key areas where mentors can guide and nurture not just innovators, but innovations.

Culture. If you’re looking at innovation as a matter of environment and climate, having mentors who will help test and see ideas through supports an overall innovation culture. Think of the last great idea that you had that someone took in hand and helped you experiment with and prototype. You might have to go back to elementary school – but wasn’t that teacher or mentor not just helping you, but also helping to set a tone that it was okay to try new ideas and ask for help? That’s how an innovation mentor can impact organizational culture.

Connecting Ideas. We hear more and more often that the most original and transformative ideas are actually the most networked and well-connected ones. An innovation mentor doesn’t need to think of great ideas, they need to be thinking of connections that they can facilitate and similarities that they can draw. In fact, the practice of combining ideas might be one of the most disruptive plays that an organization can make.

Assembling Resources. Innovation mentors are like VC funders or angel investors to intrapreneurs. Maybe they’re not directly funding an initiative (although sometimes they might be), but they’re helping them find the budget, head count, or talent that’s necessary to test and grow a new idea. This is most important in the implementation phase and is sometimes the difference between a great new line of business and a dead idea.

To learn more about innovation mentors, download the complimentary infographic on the subject.