In today’s world, the market is more competitive than almost ever before. Consumers have so many options when it comes to goods and services that they focus more on the “best of” above all else. In order to maintain sustainability as a business, companies must be adaptable and flexible in an ever-changing, adapting marketplace. Whereas new ideas used to be generated and investigated by specialized research and development teams, companies have realized that there is perhaps a better pool of innovators which they can tap into: all of their employees.
As is true with finding creative solutions to problems, employees are best equipped to recommend suggestions for potential offerings to clients. Environmental Resources Management (ERM) is a leading global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk, social consulting services and sustainability related services. They recently implemented their Innovation Tournament, engaging employees around the world in recommending potential expansions of offerings. ERM had a 69% participation rate, with more than 3,000 employees contributing and 465 new ideas presented. Of these 465 ideas, 25 were presented as shortlist options, eventually whittled down to five finalists, and a final winning suggestion to be implemented. ERM is holding onto all of the suggestions, though, and keeping them in mind for future implementation.
While staying competitive in the marketplace is obviously very important, another of the most significant aspects of sustainability, that of internal innovation and efficiency, is often overlooked. It’s easy to only focus on being external-facing in your innovation because that seems to have the most immediate impact on an organization; however, if you don’t have the internal infrastructure to back up those new innovations, or you are always stagnating with clunky, dated systems of accomplishing things, you’re not likely to make it very far on external innovations alone. ERM realized this was true, and though their Innovation Tournament was primarily focused on market-facing ideas, it was also open to suggestions on how to improve internal processes as well.
Ultimately, employees of ERM—or employees of any organization—are best positioned to suggest possible solutions because they have the ingredients for successful innovation: the institutional knowledge (to realize what may be feasible, to remain on brand while also providing expansions, etc.) and the investment in the organization to care about finding solutions.
To find out more about sustainability, and how ERM is tapping into employee knowledge for solutions, click here to download our recent case study.