IDEASCALE BLOG

Tag: employee engagement

3 Reasons Healthcare Needs Idea Management

Healthcare Needs Idea ManagementIt’s hard enough to keep up in a complex industry like healthcare. But just wait till healthcare is disrupted as dramatically as retail or music has been over the past decade.

Clearly the healthcare industry has long been a competitive vertical (on numerous fronts: from patient services to technology and edge disciplines), and its complexity makes it harder to disrupt than others, but there is no denying that the challenges have accelerated. Unity Stoakes, in his What’s Now conversation earlier this Spring painted a persuasive picture of the accelerating forces driving what he sees as an exponential growth curve in the industry.

Much of this impending disruption has the potential to deliver wonderful benefits to individuals, organizations and society at large. In fact, an argument could be made that the more radical the change, the greater the potential benefits…. However, when it comes to managing change at your healthcare organization, how can we all stay on our toes and make the most of these accelerating changes?

At IdeaScale we’re working with a diversity of healthcare organizations from hospital systems to research and development institutions and medical technology companies. While some are working to increase knowledge sharing between traditionally siloed departments, others are focused on saving millions of dollars a year and still others are focused on accelerating product development.

At the core of what they’re all doing is building an idea management processes to ensure they get all hands on deck to stay competitive as the pace of change accelerates, and disruption increases. Here are a few key reasons your health organization wants to do the same:

Attract and retain top talentIf Unity is right about the current tide of talent transforming the healthcare sector (and he makes good arguments about how much increasing VC capital is attracting, then now is the time to make sure your employees are engaged and feel positive about workplace well-being. Attract talent in the next 5 years, don’t lose it.

Transform and deliver faster. Be more agile. The faster you can process new ideas, the more able your organization will be to identify and take advantage of new opportunities. This means you’ll have to be both ruthless towards ideas but generous about failure because testing is the best way to learn.

A well oiled-machine weathers the storm better. Deliver consistent process improvement throughout your organization and that will keep the engine purring no matter what influencing factors are creating change. When engineers design airplanes they take turbulence into account by focusing on the structural integrity of the airplane. If the next decade is bound to be a turbulent one for healthcare, leveraging your whole company to help optimize your processes will help improve operations, reduce errors and improve organizational integrity in a more predictable fashion. 

Learn more about the state of innovation in the healthcare industry in our white paper.

What the U.S. Coast Guard Can Teach Us About Innovation

The Coast Guard has changed the game with innovation.

When we look for inspiration with innovation strategy, we rarely consider organizations outside the corporate world. But it’s not just start-ups and big companies innovating. Organizations of all sorts are developing their employee’s ideas to achieve their mission, and one of the best examples is the United States Coast Guard.

A Tough Job

The Coast Guard is rarely discussed, but it’s got one of the toughest jobs in the military. The Coast Guard has eleven general orders that range from search and rescue to assisting shipping operations. They’re out on the water, every day, working in industrial, criminal justice, and safety applications, and that, as you might guess, means they need all the help they can get.

The Coast Guard’s innovation strategy was to use it to strike a balance between the short-term needs of getting the job done, and the long-term goals of the organization. In the past, the Coast Guard relied on specific leadership to get the innovation job done, but their new strategy turns to their sailors, not just their commanders.

It’s simple, really: The Coast Guard has created a platform where it lays out a challenge, but remains what they call “solution-agnostic.” In other words, they don’t have a specific solution to make it fit. Instead, they ask for solutions and run those solutions by the stakeholders. It’s one thing if a commander likes an idea, but it’s much more powerful if the technicians keeping the boats afloat or the mates who use those boats to do their jobs like an idea.

From there, it drives the Coast Guard’s investment. Nor is it a one-off or a program built around meetings. It’s a rolling collection of challenges that’s going every day of the year, available anytime for anybody in the Coast Guard to weigh in.

The Coast Guard has 11 crucial jobs, and it’s innovating around every single one.

And Someone’s Proud To Do It

What’s attention-getting is how effective this strategy was at leapfrogging what seemed insurmountable boundaries. For example, one of the problems with past innovation was rank. Since the Coast Guard is a military organization, there’s protocol surrounding how, and whether, you speak to someone who outranks you. A boatswain’s mate can’t tell a commander his idea is the dumbest thing he’s ever heard of, no matter how politely he says it.

Secondly, it drew on a specific, shared point of concern across the entire Guard, namely disaster response. Ranking officers and ship crew alike felt that lessons learned from recent disasters like the Deepwater Horizon spill and Hurricane Sandy hadn’t been propagated through the entire Guard, and they were worried about losing civilian lives. So the Guard made sure the veterans of those disasters had a platform to discuss the challenges, explain how they solved them, and not only opened the door to innovating in their organization but teaching. The lessons learned from Sandy have helped with hurricane season this year and will keep lives safe going forward.

The mission of a start-up or a company looking to shake up its industry may not be as urgent as the Coast Guard’s. But there’s a lot you can learn by looking at their innovation strategy. To learn more, join our newsletter.

How Innovation Helps Address Sustainability Challenges

Innovation builds more than just better products.

One of the greatest challenges facing business at the moment is sustainability. Getting the most out of the resources you have access to, reducing the amount of resources you use, and finding more renewable resources are good both for society and your bottom line. But creating something sustainable starts with the core resource of any business: The people you work with. Environmental Resource Management, or ERM, recently showcased this with a brilliant innovation strategy.

Getting It Done

ERM’s corporate mission is deceptively simple on paper: Build better ecological security, reduce waste and cost, and help businesses become more environmentally friendly. They’ve worked with businesses across the world to do everything from finding renewable resources for industries to analyzing supply chains to identify inefficiencies and ecological risks companies hadn’t considered.

Don’t be fooled, though: Sustainability isn’t a matter of recommending you install solar panels and recycle more. What works for one company on the ecological front isn’t effective for another, even within the same industry. As a result, client services and uniting expertise is a challenge for ERM. They decided to draw on their employees.

ERM held its first global innovation tournament in 2015, with the goal of using existing technology to build on their offerings to their clients. The tournament, promoted to employees, had three rounds and built on employee feedback using an innovation platform. Employees could like and comment on ideas, and not just offer their perspective but also use the platform as a library of the company’s expertise.

The results speak for themselves: 69% of ERM’s 5,000 employees weighed in on various ideas, watching the tournament and participating. It both built teamwork, and it sparked ideas across the board. And it underscores an important point.

Innovation yields great rewards.

Tapping The Human Resource

ERM knew that there’s nobody who knows your company like your employees, and they used it to their advantage. Employees are bursting with ideas and new approaches to challenges in the field, but it’s difficult to create a platform that lets them share that expertise across the board. How often has the solution to a seemingly thorny problem been solved with a simple email to somebody who’s dealt with it before? Institutional knowledge is incredibly useful, but it doesn’t spread quickly unless you find a way to let it spread.

That was the key advantage of ERM’s innovation strategy. They based it on the concrete, asking for new approaches to technology and processes the company already used. Instead of having to ask around and find somebody to email, employees could share their expertise to a much broader context. In a way, the tournament was almost beside the point, although it certainly offered a great incentive to jump in and comment.

Especially with sustainability, it’s important to draw on institutional knowledge. The key to sustainability is often not building new technology, but better understanding and refining the technology and services you have. ERM used this technique to tap into and spread their institutional knowledge. How will you use innovation strategy to bolster your employees? For tips on how, contact us.

Is Your Innovation Program Changing Employee Sentiment?

Employee SentimentMany people launch an innovation community as a way of improving their employee engagement scores. But how do you know if you’re moving in the right direction? Many IdeaScale customers are interested in gathering sentiment analysis. This is actually possible directly within IdeaScale using the survey tool, which can pose questions to every member of the community, but before you do that, you might want to think about what it is that you want to measure in order to find out how people truly feel about your innovation program. Here are a few things to consider:

Set a Baseline. This means that you’ll have to wait to find out how you really did on the test. You need at least two data points in order to chart progress. Even if you’ve already launched a community, measure their responses now and again in three to six months. So get started now and set up a regular reminder for the future.

Figure Out How You Want to Measure. Is it NPS? A 5-star satisfaction scale? Pass/Fail? Determine your metric to know how you’re doing and use the same measure each time you reach out to measure innovation sentiment.

Know Your Audience. It’s all very important to know who you’re talking to. If you’re reaching out for feedback using the IdeaScale built-in survey tool, you can even target particular groups within your community, but it’s good to know who they are (old employees vs. new employees, men or women, how are they using the software in the first place).

Get Beyond Your Own Sense of Value. Yes, of course you get value by accessing and combining people’s ideas, but what value are you providing to your community? Is it the intrinsic joy of connecting or is it that they’ve seen a lot of organizational change since they joined the community? What is it that your community comes to your innovation program for?

Learn more about measuring innovation sentiment, by downloading our complimentary infographic on the subject.

Overcoming the Barriers to Innovation in Healthcare

Overcoming the Barriers to Innovation in HealthcareOf all the industries poised to improve with innovation, none are more promising than healthcare. However, many organizations struggle to move forward due to a lack of strategy and a lack of employee and leadership buy-in. Here are jut a few ways to address those issues as you work on overcoming the barriers to innovation in healthcare:

Establish a Strategy

This first step is perhaps the most difficult, but also the most valuable. Establishing a strategy means setting expectations, defining metrics, assigning responsibility (if everyone’s responsible, no one’s responsible), defining a process, and more. It also means familiarizing yourself with the regulations and rules when it comes to new ideas. It’s also not a bad time to revisit values and mission so that you can align the problems that you want to solve and the solutions that you find to your overall organizational goals. With established goals in place and a defined strategy for innovation, your healthcare group will be in a far better position to curate ideas, evaluate those ideas, develop them further and allow them to flourish.

Make Innovation a Shared Responsibility

Innovation shouldn’t be the realm of the elite – don’t be trapped by your own department or even your own industry: look everywhere for new ideas. Also look for ideas that are already successful in other parts of the business and see if they can’t be rolled out elsewhere. If everyone is in charge of finding and sharing great ideas- the likelihood of you finding them is far greater. But if innovation is everyone’s responsibility then you need to honor that commitment by setting aside some budget for implementing new ideas and designating a point person who can steward all those new ideas through to success.

Deliver on Ideas Across Multiple Horizons

Not every idea is transformative. Some save a few minutes on the hospital floor, some create a slightly improved patient experience and you should pay attention to those ideas, as well. The worst thing that you can do is ignore ideas. So get started on those easy-to-implement, quick wins right away to build credibility and traction. You’ll find that when you start working on those transformative concepts that you’ll have marshalled far more resources to your side.

Continue to Improve

The barriers to get started on a crowdsourced innovation program are actually quite low. But you’ll learn a lot just by starting a program. Don’t be afraid to change, update, and improve. In fact, you must. Innovation is an agile process. You’ll learn a lot along the way. So change your goals, shift your process, update your communications strategy, invite new people to participate, re-launch and always find new ways to make a difference.

To learn more about innovation in the healthcare sector, download our white paper on the subject. 

 

5 Signs You Need an Idea Management Solution

Signs You Need an Idea Management SolutionNot everyone knows the opportunities associated with idea management software, so sometimes it’s hard to make a case to adopt it at your company. But here are a few of the signs that you’re ready for an idea management solution:

  1. You’re Falling Behind the Competition. Other key players (or new kids on the block) are coming up with far superior, new products and services and they’re doing it faster than you are. An idea management solution not only give you new ideas, it allows you to help those ideas move along faster. Many of our customers are able to cut idea development time in half once they have an idea management solution in place.
  2. You Don’t Have Enough New Ideas. Actually, most organizations DO have enough great ideas, but they just don’t have a way to access, organize, and aggregate them. An idea management solution will show you just how healthy your organization is (or isn’t) when it comes to new ideas.
  3. You Don’t Have Time for New Ideas. Lots of our customers come to us, because they want to maximize resources. An idea management solution allows them to distribute responsibility for idea implementation- not only can anyone anywhere suggest an idea, they can take it and run with it. The only bottle neck then becomes decision making, so ensure that you have a smart, but rapid decision making strategy in place in order to meet this expectation.
  4. You Have a Difficult Time Making a Business Case for New Ideas. How many good ideas die, because leadership doesn’t see the value? A crowdsourced idea management solution gives you multiple ways to prove the value of an idea: its popularity, its value or costs, its market validation, and more. And it does it all with transparency. Hard to argue that.
  5. Your Employees Aren’t Engaged. What? I thought we were talking about ideas here. Well, getting your employees involved in positive change at your organization is one of the best ways to get them invested and re-invigorated. If people are leaving your company, if they’re not excited and using their problem solving skills, then it’s time to give them a way to share their ideas on how to make their workplace even better. Just remember that implementation is a key to success here. You have to be ready to make change (even if they’re just small changes to get started).

To see how idea management works in action, sign up for a demo of our software. 

Understanding the Source of Employee Innovation

Boredom is one of those facets of life that consistently amaze. How can any person be bored when there is so much around us that stimulates our intellect and inspires our awe? And why do we continuously and mindlessly scroll through television channels and facebook feeds instead of focusing our energy on creating something of beauty or value?

Boredom persists. In the workplace, we call this phenomenon, disengagement. All managers dread this and go to great lengths to improve engagement in the workplace. Whether it’s motivating staff, reaching customers, or simply having a conversation, employers want engaging interactions. They crave opinions and other forms of employee feedback, especially when those choice pieces of feedback help to directly further company goals.

The dilemma is, how do managers create engagement? Employees can’t be beaten with sticks (you can try but your HR team will likely frown upon it). You can’t yell at people to not be bored or to focus more.

No, the secret to employee engagement is curiosity and challenge. When people are challenged, their minds will naturally start formulating solutions. We call this, creativity. Marketing people call it, innovation. What follows are a few pieces of advice to encourage innovation (or creativity) from your employees.

Engagement Powers Activate!

Each day, we are flooded with information and stimuli. Take, for example, that little number in the corner of your inbox that numbers emails in the thousands or tens of thousands. Those are pieces of information that we have to analyze, prioritize and process. Our brains sort this information into two buckets — interesting and unworthy.

We actually have a dedicated neural network that manages this process which is called, The Reticular Activating System (RAS).  The RAS has two main functions; 1) highlighting relevant information in real time, and 2) stimulating pattern recognition to fuel innovative thinking.

In terms of our biology, the RAS monitors our shift between rest and wakefulness. Functionally, as it applies to how we communicate and perform throughout the day, the RAS determines whether we should tune stimuli out or tune them in.

Recognizing how the RAS functions provides an opportunity to improve engagement in the workplace. It can help us determine how we communicate and how often. Should we send someone thirty emails or have a ten minute conversation?

Are people falling asleep in meetings? If they look disengaged or bored, they are tuning you out. That means it’s time to change the content or format of your meeting. When people are engaged, they are attentive and responsive in meetings. They inspired to be more creative in their tasks and find new ways to accomplish their goals.

Reinforcing Engagement

Useful information activates the RAS to pay attention. When new or interesting information is in front of us, we focus. When that moment passes in a meeting, and we are told information that is irrelevant or that we already know, our RAS prompts us to disengage.

The best way to engage employees is to give them something that inspires curiosity. Being told a statement requires no thought on the part of the person to whom information is being conveyed. Being asked a question, though, prompts us to think about the answer.

The more questions we ask others, the more that they feel engaged – and that engagement persists over time as long as the questions remain pertinent. A question becomes part of our subconscious, and as time goes on, we are drawn to information that relates to what we were asked.

Leading Staff to Innovate

People managers can use the Reticular Activating Systems of their employees to engage staff in positive directions for the company. But do people always view the company’s success as their own success? How can you keep your staff focused and have them care about outcomes?

One way is to engage your staff by enrolling them in creating their own personal quarterly objectives that are tied to the quarterly objectives of the team and the company.

Another way to engage your staff is to move them away from a focus on individual success and towards a focus on success for the team. You can ask them what can be done to improve a situation and encourage them to crowdsource ideas from the rest of the staff. People who are challenged and curious and who are working towards a collective goal are more likely to innovate, instead of just passively doing their jobs.

Finally, let them know that their ideas have value through consistent recognition and reward.

Companies can provide personal incentives (a bonus or recognition of a job well done) to motivate individual participation. Employees learn that contributing to the company’s success will produce personal success for them as well.

Low employee engagement continues to baffle Human Resource professionals, middle managers, and company leaders the world over. But the solution is really not that complicated. Pay attention to employees and notice when they tune out and when they tune in. Then ask questions to keep them curious and challenge them so that their natural propensity towards innovation remains activated.

This blog is a guest post by David Mizne, Content Strategist of 15five

Open Innovation: A critical success factor when you build your innovation journey

We are currently experiencing one of the most significant transformations of our history. In 2030, 75% of the global employees will be “digital natives,” who grew up surrounded by mobile devices, mobile communication and the Internet. “The Internet of Things” has become a reality and more than 1 billion users are online in social networks everyday, influencing products and brands. Their interactive behavioral patterns are constantly shifting and a pre-digital world is now inconceivable.

The process of Digital Transformation is not a new phenomenon – it started many years ago and we understand it as a phenomenon with two major dimensions:

  • Technological change (and digital data processing as one part of it).
  • A large scale transformational process that is comprised of strategic, organizational and socio-cultural changes as the second part.

The combination of these processes has a major impact on the way we work and the way we lead. Digital transformation challenges established new business models and management approaches. Therefore, when we talk about digital transformation, we refer to all the changes that are driven by the rapid development of digital technology.

Most of the companies we talk to have to ask themselves two key questions: What do we need to be successful in the digital age? and How can we change the way we work and the way we interact with our customers, to ensure that we know their needs at all times to respond in an agile and fast way?

As a consequence there is not a “one size fits all” solution – each company needs a unique plan to drive innovation and change successfully. However, there are some proven measures with high impact on revenue growth, cost and time savings and improved effects on customer satisfaction – one of them Open Innovation (also known as crowdsourcing). Recently in the Gartner 2016 CIO Survey, they discovered that crowdsourcing is one of the most effective, leased used digital innovation practices, which correlates with the highest digital return.

I encourage each company (regardless of size and industry) to discover the power that can be generated by working with a crowd to develop and improve solutions and service offerings. That crowd can be comprised of your employees, your clients or your ecosystem. However, successful innovation management goes beyond the research and development department. On the contrary, it aims to involve each individual – a major step towards cultural change in the digital age!

Don’t leave innovation to chance. Digital technology has changed the possibilities open to clients – and they utilize those possibilities by changing the rules. They now expect simple, seamless and personalized user experiences – anytime, anywhere and on any device. A company’s success therefore depends on maintaining a dialogue with the outside world. This goal can only be achieved by working closely together in a sustainable way – crowdsourcing allows you to do just that.

Embedded in your overall corporate strategy, Open Innovation is one key success criteria of your innovation journey and your chance for instant change. Want to learn more? Check this out: Silicon Valley meets Europe – Innovation Tour.

 This blog is a re-post of an original that appeared on Linkedin Pulse

Five Tips for Selling Your Executive Team on Crowdsourcing’s Value

Get everyone on board with crowdsourcing.

Why do companies resist crowdsourcing? It’s a tough question, and if you’re looking to boost crowdsourcing as a solution, it can seem a tough obstacle to overcome. The trick, however, is knowing why there’s resistance and having a good explanation for it. Here are five common objections to crowdsourcing from the executive suite, and how to respond to them and get your crowdsourcing started.

Lay Out A Clear, Sensible Path

By far the biggest obstacle crowdsourcing faces is that for many companies, it’s unexplored turf. The best way to push back is to point out bold moves that worked internally before and to present similar success stories from your industry. If your competitors are working on crowdsourcing, point that out as well; a thoughtful approach is better than ignoring something, after all.

Know Your Crowd

Another objection is that many companies are simply so narrowly focused that crowdsourcing is pointless. In this case, it’s worth counteracting that you’ll largely find an audience among people already interested in your industry, such as your customers, and they’ll already know your products and industry inside and out. Besides, crowdsourcing is built on the idea that we can easily see the trees — so what about the forest? Outside opinions can help refine even the most specialized industries, and a small, focused crowd is more manageable. If anything, being specialized is a benefit.

Start Internally

A common objection is that outsiders shouldn’t be looking at sensitive company data, so start with internal crowdsourcing. Even small companies should regularly be asking employees for ideas: After all, they’re in the industry, and nobody understands your company better than the people who work there. Crowdsourcing doesn’t have to be external at first, and trying it internally will help you refine your process and address any objections the executive suite might have.

Crowdsourcing pays big dividends if everyone signs off.

Know The Law

To be fair, it’s reasonable to ask what the legal repercussions are of having outsiders refine your product, and there are risks. However, those risks are easy to compensate for if you know they’re on the table, and you can respond by offering to keep it relatively small, with just a few hundred participants and a narrow focus. That will limit legal liability and offer a good internal test case, and you can build from there.

Have A Benefit For The Crowd

What’s in it for the crowd? This is another question worth asking, and that you’ll need an answer for. Crowdsourcing campaigns only work when there’s benefit for both the company doing the crowdsourcing and the crowd itself. LEGO, for example, crowdsources ideas for new designs from its fans, but for fans, the benefit is that they get to tell the company exactly what they want out of the product they love. When you’re asked what the benefit would be for the crowd, have an answer ready, and be ready to talk about it.

The key with internal resistance is to have a clear response to objections and realize this will be a marathon, not a sprint. Crowdsourcing can be a difficult concept to wrap your mind around, but the rewards are worth it. If you’d like more ways to make your case, get the Innovation Starter Kit.

Environmental, Social, and Governance Strategy in the Workplace

Environmental, Social, and Governance StrategyAs if corporate managers didn’t have enough to worry about, they must now  consider a new business challenge: investors are increasingly looking towards non-financial data to determine your company’s risk.

Environmental, social and governance strategy (ESG) refers to the three central factors in measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company or business. The overall market for ESG investments has swelled to $8.7 trillion in U.S. assets under management last year, up 33% since 2014, according to the U.S. SIF Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

In the past, a small class of investors would utilize ESG data through a screening process, mainly to filter out certain investments from an ethical perspective (tobacco, gambling, human rights violations, etc).

But today, a growing number of institutional (think: pension funds) and activist investors are linking ESG data with financial performance to make investment decisions. “This is a way of reducing risk,” Clifton S. Robbins, CEO of Blue Harbour Group LP said in an interview. “If we can add one more lens to look through that helps us determine risk, that’s fantastic.”

This shift in how investors are determining your company’s investment risk is being met with new analytical tools to make access to ESG data easier than ever before. Just this week, the Wall Street Journal announced State Street Corp.’s new tool to gauge environmental, and other social risks. “We have the root data, everything about the company itself,” said Lou Maiuri, head of State Street’s analytics and markets businesses. “We sit on 12% to 15% of the world’s assets.”

And it’s not just big investors – the little ones are paying attention as well. The relative proportion socially responsible investments made by individuals in Canada, Europe and the United States increased from 13% in 2014 to 26% at the start of 2016, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance’s newly released Investment Review.

As a manager, how are you thinking about these issues? Is this a challenge for you? I’d love to hear from you for a future blog post. In exchange, I will send a copy of Thomas Friedman’s new book, “Thank You for Being Late” to the first five people who respond.

In the meantime, here are three things you can do today to get a jump start:

    1. Ask your employees what they care about. This is one of the first steps to developing a purpose-driven workplace. Focusing on purpose rather than profits builds business confidence and drives investment. Additionally, 73% of employees who say they work for a purpose-driven company are engaged, whereas only 23% of employees are engaged at companies that are not purpose driven.
    2. Maintain an ongoing dialogue with employees on social issues. The old adage of telling employees to leave personal issues at home is over. Four out of 10 working Americans say they take care of personal or family needs during work and about a quarter report that they regularly bring work home (26%), work during vacations (25%) and allow work to interrupt time with family and friends (25%). These were among the findings of a survey by APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence.
    3. Ask the public for solutions to your sustainability challenges. Many leaders are afraid to openly discuss their company’s negative impact on the environment at the risk of gaining bad publicity. IdeaBuzz is a turn-key solution for hosting a low profile contest to an existing crowd of problem solvers to discover new solutions. Additionally, sustainability ideation has been proven to increase overall innovation performance and competitive advantage.

Today’s corporate managers must now consider both financial and non-financial (ESG) factors when evaluating company performance and setting strategic goals. “When we call a CEO we are going to be asking about this,” Mr. Robbins said. “We’re going to hold you accountable to what we’ve talked about.”

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This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Josh Folk, VP of Global Sales at IdeaScale