WHY capture innovative ideas?
From being mocked locally as‘Damn Bloody Slow‘ to becoming “Bank of the Year,” – How in the world did Singapore’s DBS bank pull it off? The answer, unsurprisingly, lies in – ‘enterprise-wide participation from employees in innovation, hence the capture of innovative ideas.’
Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Bank — decade-long leadership with disruptive innovation as a central theme made the “27,000 people startup” – the best bank in the world. Once mocked locally as “Damn Bloody Slow” (for its notoriously long lines), DBS is now considered a global digital leader in financial services. In 2019, it became the first bank to simultaneously hold the title “Bank of the Year” (The Banker), “Best Bank in the World” (Global Finance), and “World’s Best Bank” (Euromoney).
The transformative ideas resulted from numerous hackathons conducted by grouping 8-10 employees per team. The teams were a diverse mix of young as well as old experienced employees. The teams were given 72 hours, ping pong tables, free-flowing beer, and mattresses to sleep in, only to come with an application at the end of 3 days. The bank created systems to judge these apps and rolled out the ones that were worth it. Experiments and innovation became a part of the company’s culture. And, in 10 years, DBS bank saw a 360-degree transformation for good.
According to McKinsey, 80% of executives think their current business models are at risk of being disrupted soon and struggle to capture innovative ideas. In addition, 84% of executives believe innovation is essential to their growth.
Encouraging innovation can be complex for business leaders when motivating employees (or yourself) to develop new and creative ways to solve problems. Typically, these ideas are not born within the corporate boardrooms, but instead, they are found by dedicated workers identifying problems and providing ingenious solutions.
Challenges in capturing innovative ideas:
People working at grass-root levels face real problems. There is a very high probability that these people can develop ingenious solutions to solve these problems. However, the enterprise misses out on an opportunity to capture such innovative ideas in the absence of frictionless idea-capturing systems. After all, ideas tend to vanish if not documented in time quickly. Some common examples of widely used make-do arrangements for capturing ideas are:
- Suggestion boxes
- Separate email address to submit these ideas
- A dedicated Slack channel for capturing ideas
The major drawbacks of such solutions are high friction in participation from employees, ideas quickly getting lost, improper tracking from ideas to execution, etc.
The lack of a culture that encourages innovation is also a reason for the lack of enterprise-wide participation. Therefore, it’s important to find the root cause of why employees are not participating:
- Do employees fear judgment?
- Are employees not aware of the benefits of submitting ideas?
To establish a culture of growth and innovation within the organization, it is necessary to make employees feel as though their input matters. For innovations to occur, employees need to know that their ideas are considered essential and will be further developed.
Capture creative ideas: The 10-step plan
Let us look at the 10-step plan to fill your innovation funnel.
Step 1 – Encourage Leadership To Involve Proactively
As humans (or monkeys) imitating is one of the prominent ways for us to learn. Even children start learning by imitating their parents. Kids love to behave like adults – take teachers to pretend play for example. Hence, the onus is on the leadership teams to do imitation-worthy behaviour to cultivate a culture of innovation. Whether it’s about coming up with innovative ideas yourself or encouraging the team to come up with innovative ideas. Thus, leadership has a dual role to play in the organization.
Let’s talk more about these dual roles.
Take a leaf out of the great Thomas Edison’s life book. He established quotas for innovation. His quota was one minor invention every ten days and a major invention every six months. Likewise, your workforce can produce targeted, insightful, and polished results by forcing energies on specific ideas. This approach will allow a steady stream of imaginative, innovative thoughts and purge common, low-quality ideas. Living by a discipline like this, the leadership team can encourage constant innovation.
New ideas are sensitive and should be approached with tender care. Read Here’s what Apple’s previous Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive, spoke about the late Steve Jobs:
“As thoughts grew into ideas, however tentative, however fragile, he recognized that this was hallowed ground. He had such a deep understanding and reverence for the creative process. He understood creating should be afforded rare respect—not only when the ideas were good or the circumstances convenient.”
It’s the leadership’s approach to interacting with ideas that shall set the stage for encouraging innovators to share more ideas.
Step 2 – Determine The Barriers
Source- Innovation Leader – HBR
Innovation may be more prevalent within organizations, but the evidence suggests that it has not penetrated top-level management agendas.
Before the wheels of innovation start running, it’s necessary to find out the initial challenges that could prevent innovation. The best way to identify this is by conducting a survey encompassing both employees and managers at your organization. Then, through crowd-sourced communication methods like surveys and open discussion, you’ll be able to understand what are the initial problems with innovation at your particular company.
The top reasons for businesses to stall on the road to innovation are related to central areas such as:
- Lack of time
- The perception that doing things differently produces no positive outcome
- Lack of financial resources
- Lack of innovative skills, or
- The lack of infrastructure for bringing new ideas to friction
Once you have assessed the state of your businesses and identified the various barriers to innovation success and capture of innovative ideas, switching gears from “status quo” to “innovation mode” would be comparatively easy.
Step 3 – Use Merit v. Money As Motivator
Harvard Business School’s Teressa Amabile’s componential theory of creativity can serve as a checklist for leaders who want to create a culture where innovative ideas flow.
The right team and company culture are needed for the employees to understand the organization’s goals, objectives, and motivations while having a clear sense of autonomy to reach said objectives. This kind of autonomy promotes correct thinking and fosters an environment where people can spread their wings and achieve more than they would have otherwise.! Good pay is just a perk – it’s about inspiring creativity by showcasing ideas that are implemented into real-world scenarios instead of simply paying top dollar for them at first sight.
Start by crafting and communicating your business’s mission and values. If the employees are clear about what’s expected of them as staff, they’re more likely to contribute to the innovative process making it easier to capture innovative ideas. In addition, one of the best ways to enhance the right culture and motivation within the organization is to emphasize the team’s potential to shape an organization’s future direction, ultimately leading it toward success.
When you acknowledge your team members’ contributions (large or small), they’ll be motivated to keep that up to have their efforts recognized and stand a chance at climbing the ladder within a company. Although this is an English translation of a Chinese proverb, it’s still great advice for worldwide businesses.
Step 4 – Establish A Process To Capture Innovative Ideas
“Ideas tend to vanish quickly. So capture them before they get lost.”
Are the people working in the organization aware that the top management is looking for ideas and suggestions from the employees? You begin by taking the first step – asking for ideas. However, just asking people to submit their ideas might feel overwhelming. Managers can communicate the areas of focus to channel innovation.
What happens when ideas are received? Is there a set of people who will vet the ideas from different perspectives like feasibility, business suitability, technology, leanness, priority, etc.? A feedback loop is shall be essential to refine the ideas.
Is there a way to keep employees updated about what’s happening with their ideas? The acceptance and execution of selected ideas can motivate employees to contribute to the innovation capture process. Further rewards in terms of due credits and recognition can bring additional motivation. For any process to run smoothly, a well-designed system is a necessity. That brings us to the next step.
Step 5 – Minimize Friction Between Participants
Is there a system to capture innovative ideas – could it be a set of forms or tables on the intranet or a tailor-made innovation capture system? Are employees aware of such systems? Do employees know how to use these systems?
Suppose the workforce does not have access to the necessary technology and doesn’t feel comfortable communicating with upper management. In that case, there may be times when you miss out on potentially innovative ideas. Therefore, providing employees with the best communication mediums for sharing their ideas is necessary. Creating designated spaces, and equipping intuitive tools where individuals can share innovative ideas takes a step further toward capturing enterprise-wide innovations.
This is where idea management tools like InspireIP Ideas can help. Want to know more about how our tool can help you and your organization achieve your objectives? Learn more here or send us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can walk you through our tool.
Step 6 – Make Innovation A Priority To Capture Innovative Ideas
Did you know AdSense and Gmail were the results of capturing innovative ideas or those forwarded by employees? One should ensure that with daily operational activities, employees can make time for innovations as well. Here are some practices that most innovative companies in the world follow to make innovation a priority:
- Google – 20% Project System: This is what Google has carved out for employees to find new and improved ways of doing things. This project system enabled the creation of a critical Google service – Gmail!
- 3M – 15% Project: This is the innovative firm 3M’s approach to allowing its employees to ideate new inventions for 15% of their workweek with the idea that bottom-up innovations can lead to profitable projects that can significantly contribute to the top line. Sticky Notes are an example of the results of this project.
- Atlassian – 20% Project: As organizations grow, innovation becomes a tougher nut to crack. The Australian firm Atlassian has implemented its innovation rule wherein on a “Ship It Day,” employees are challenged to ship new products within 24 hours. Another result of this initiative has been refined updates to its globally loved software, Jira.
- TargetProcess – 20% Project: From “Orange Fridays” to “Orange Time,” the employees at TargetProcess, a project management software company, are allowed to read, ideate, and tinker with new technologies, and come up with new and innovative solutions to problems. So much so that the company culture has morphed to the point that there are no managers, limited-to-zero supervision, and an incredible rise in employee satisfaction.
Open forums or group discussions work as one of the most effective ways to make time for innovation while allowing employees to submit their ideas to get some creative juices flowing.
Step 7 – Think Different
Sometimes to tackle persistent business problems, your company and its cadre need to approach them with a seemingly paradigm-shifting approach. They will have to think out of the box.
Amazon Web Services has seen a rapid ascent and is arguably one of the most radically disruptive innovations brought to the fore. As a result, AWS has earned the reputation of being the leader in the infrastructure-as-a-service market. Moreover, it is part of an industry trend percolating every conceivable industry.
The seismic shift that AWS brought upon the industry, ushering in the age of cloud computing, was borne out of a need to tackle a notorious business problem – faster technology deployment. Amazon Web Services wasn’t any one person’s single idea. There was no “aha” moment or a single individual’s brilliance. Instead, it was a collaborative effort.
Both managers and employees need to think creatively and innovatively together. The collaboration will often lead both parties to great places when it comes time for brainstorming sessions. Brainstorming is especially beneficial in cases concerning the capture of innovative ideas and solutions pertaining directly to launching projects that will serve end customers, who will ultimately be buying the product or service.
Ideas are fragile. They need to be protected and harnessed gradually to bring about excellent outcomes. During these sessions, the suggestions should never be evaluated based on whether or not they are interesting at first but instead on how viable an option they appear by using one’s mind creatively to come up with beneficial outcomes.
Word games, improv, and ideas walls are a few methods that encourage an environment where productivity and creativity thrive.
Step 8 – Listen and Ponder
The best way to get things going is by creating and encouraging a culture that encourages open dialogue. Cultivate an environment where people practice “radical candour.” Radical Candor is the ability to challenge directly and show that you care personally simultaneously.
Kim Scott, who came has come up with this term, gave an example of a former Google executive who stood up to Google’s co-founder Larry Page and exchanged a few heated words while disagreeing over a business decision. But, as Scott recounts.
“Instead of raising his voice or getting angry, the tech leader simply grinned.”
The feedback was appreciated and taken in good spirits. The result was a genuinely collaborative and constructive conversation.
Put in place systems and technologies to encourage employees to give more open and honest feedback and suggestions for innovation. Employees love having their opinions heard. Giving them an avenue to express themselves with the leadership by listening first, and then reacting objectively to the suggestions will allow appropriate innovations in the implementation stage quickly where necessary.
Step 9 – Role Swapping And Shadowing
“Never underestimate the power of fresh eyes”
In olden times kings, used to dress up as local villagers to tap into the reality of their kingdom. Such role reversals usually brought extraordinary changes in the way the domains were run. In today’s world, some curious minds seem to have taken inspiration from these kings like these.
Consider this, for instance, Prabhjeet Singh, Uber India and South Asia President took up the role of driver and drove passengers using the cab aggregator’s service. This endeavour was not for social media validation but a genuine attempt at understanding the pain points of all the stakeholders involved in keeping the service running smoothly. The willingness to eradicate customer pain points opens up many innovation opportunities.
As a part of the leadership team, you may swap roles with employees who are lower down the hierarchy to get a glimpse of the front line that has the best vantage point of what works and doesn’t.
You may also have shadowing days where you pair up people from different teams to get a new perspective on each other’s work. Quite interestingly popular Twitter thought leader Sahil Bloom talks about increasing your luck surface area. Amongst a host of points, he recommends following your curiosity and meeting new people.
Step 10 – Initiate The Storytelling
In this approach, the leadership team spotlight employees who have engineered a unique solution that leads to business success that ripples across dimensions.
Storytelling allows employees to feel more involved in the organization. The more engaged someone feels at their job, the more likely they are to work with zest. Which leads to higher morale, productivity, creativity, and a positive workplace environment.
This approach also provides visibility to the innovators and their achievements and creates friendly competition among co-workers. Make it a point to tell the story behind an idea’s fruition. Publicly acknowledge the innovators. Just like Facebook did with its former engineer Justin Rosenstein, the one who invented the “Like” button.
Capture innovative ideas by creating an ‘Innovation flywheel’
These steps can help you radically transform how innovation is approached and captured in your organization. The more you incorporate these, the more it becomes a part of your routine processes, leading to a positive and self-reinforcing flywheel of innovation.
Allowing employees to take initiative and develop new ideas can lead to business successes such as the iPhone’s swipe-to-unlock feature – an idea that came from the unlikeliest of places – an airplane’s loo! We hope you found these tips practical and readily applicable to your business’s use cases.
Now that you have the 10-step plan to capture more innovative ideas in your organization, you next need an idea management tool. It will minimize friction and provide your users – be they your customers, employees, or partners – with a frictionless process to share their thoughts and ideas. InspireIP idea is the only tool your organization needs, to achieve your organizational objectives and get a comparatively greater ROI than other solutions. Find more about the tool here!
Read next: This top 15 idea management software can help facilitate innovation in your organization.
No comment yet, add your voice below!