7 ways to drive innovation in your business
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Successful innovation depends upon effective communication and an understanding of the different elements of the innovation process. In this article, we employ Desouza’s model of intrapreneurship to outline seven key steps companies can take to help drive innovation.
1. Create dedicated innovation teams
It is important to remember that there may be employees in your company who have the best ideas but are not good at communicating them. Therefore, it is important to have a team to help support and encourage idea sharing. If your company does not have the resource for a dedicated team this can be made up of members from different areas in your business.
2. Introduce an idea sharing platform
You need to bring employees together to share and collaboratively generate ideas, whether in-person or virtually, the right platform is important.
For example, Dell IdeaStorm (www.ideastorm.com) provides a platform for anyone to submit their ideas, and to comment and vote on ideas from other people whereas HP organizes brown bag lunches for their employees to encourage them to discuss their ideas.
3. Create a screening process for all the ideas
You need to have an idea screening processes in place so your employees know that their ideas are being considered. This can be done in different ways.
At Electrolux, cross-functional team consisting of design, research and development, and marketing professionals are involved in the screening process which involves ideas being tested with focus groups. Any design failing to achieve a 70% approval rating from the focus group is eliminated automatically. Whereas Google simply collects ideas from employees through emails at a company-wide suggestion box, and make the ideas available for all other employees to rate and comment on.
4. Employ innovation advocates
Have a team of advocates on board who support the idea generation and innovation process. This group will inspire change throughout the organization by asking questions, supporting ideas, and demanding radical changes.
For example, at Boeing, a ‘Phantom Works’ group was created which supported the idea generation and innovation process by communicating between departments and sought ideas and technologies that could be applied in newly identified areas of the organization.
5. Encourage collaborative experimentation
Organizations should employ collaborative experimentation to improve the chance of success at innovation. Communicating with stakeholders brings new ideas, corrects problems, addresses market needs, and speeds up the innovation process.
An example of this is when Google made prototypes of products such as Gmail and Google Earth available for existing users which helped with developments.
6. Communicate with your employees
It is important for your employees to ‘buy in’ to your ideas and know as much as they can about the development of them.
For example, HP Labs uses electronic newsletters, informal coffee talks, and peer reviews to convey its latest innovation developments to employees. Having several venues for sharing information increases the likelihood that every employee will find a useful source for information about innovation and new ideas in the organization. This decreases uncertainty and negativity and helps people to be open to new ideas.
7. Be specific with your communication
Beyond communicating to your employees, you need to let them know how the innovation affects them and the positive outcomes it could bring. For example, at PNC Bank, online learning courses for employees were tied to specific job skills so each employee could tailor their online learning to meet their objectives. In this way, employees could see how the innovative course offerings applied directly to their situation and could then decide how to invest their time.
To find out more about these seven steps and the communication issues, possible strategies and goals for communication during each stage of an innovation process simply click on the link below.
This article is based on the research paper 'Communicating the Business Value of Innovation' published in International Journal of Innovation Science (Vol. 7.1)
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