10 Ways To Build An ‘Idea Factory’ Within an Organization

ideas1Ideas can be in the form of new products or services, cost-reducing techniques, process improvements, or innovative business models and methods.  No doubts that the benefits of innovation occur in all aspects of the financial statements.  Most great ideas for enhancing corporate growth and profits aren’t discovered at your research centre or brainstorming in the conference rooms, they come from the people who on a day to day basis face the company’s battles, who serve the customers, explore new markets and defend competition.

Organizations are looking at ways to tap into the knowledge base of every employee; it is more often about co-operation & collaboration inside the business that drives innovation. According to a global study by IBM, today’s CIO spends an average of 55% of his or her time on activities that spur innovation. Today, we need more innovators than any time before due to increased competition, economic conditions, the impact of globalization, migration, technological and knowledge revolutions, and climate change issues.

When it comes to problem-solving or solution building, your employees are your most valuable asset: after all, they are the closest to the work &most likely to see opportunities for innovative solutions regarding improving customer service, reducing costs, or increasing efficiency however amid so many e-mails, verbal conversations, and IM’s, it can be easy to lose great ideas.

To grow the best ideas, you have to discuss, refine, and ultimately vote on where your innovative energies will be spent. A well designed ideation platform like MangoApps (full disclosure: the author is a product manager at MangoApps) can help empower anyone to submit an idea, everyone to comment and refine an idea, and holds the decision makers accountable for acting on ideas until they are implemented or deferred. Here are few best practices to tap into the collective intelligence of your idea factory (employees);

1. INTRODUCE A SPACE TO INNOVATE ACCESSIBLE ANYWHERE, ANYTIME

ideasYou may not have the time to sit around and discuss ideas that lead business innovation. An Innovation platform creates a space in which employees from across the organization can exchange ideas, vote, collaborate& contribute to ideas from anywhere anytime since Eureka moments can happen anywhere.

2. INVOLVE EVERYONE

It’s essential to involve employees in ideation not only for their unique perspectives, but also to ensure buy-in throughout the company afterwards. If your employees aren’t telling you that your idea is crazy, then it is likely that it’s not a very big idea.

3. CREATE CONVERSATION’S

At any company innovation typically grows from the seeds planted by the senior management & employees then work together to make it a reality. Discussions about ideas should be open conversations; everyone has to be on the same page, especially when it comes to understanding the competitive environment.

4. DO NOT PUSH EMPLOYEES, PULL THEM IN

Employees need to be explained the importance of ideation, the potential they have to benefit the organization, its customers, or broader business goals. Employees need to be motivated about participating through rewards & recognitions. They can’t be forced to reveal their thoughts or be imaginative however they can be pulled into the ideation process by making it transparent and more meaningful.

5. RUN IDEA CAMPAIGNS.

Idea campaigns are a proven way to capture hundreds of ideas to improve productivity, cut costs and drive improvements from the bottom up in a short time period. It is desirable to invite the widest range of participants possible.

6. PROMOTE

It is desirable to invite the widest range of participants possible. The more diverse the participants, the more diverse and creative the ideas you receive during your ideas campaign.Promote the ideacampaigns to as many eligible participants as possible. This could be within your enterprise social network via e-mail, via announcements, links etc., Remember, if people do not know about your ideas campaign, they will not participate.

7. BUILD TEAMWORK & EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Collaborative effort between management and employees can help minimize down time researching on an idea, it can improve the dissemination of knowledge between experts and your entire network& help build stronger relationships with employees by giving their ideas visibility through leader boards, encourage peer-to-peer awards for good work and see productivity increase across your organization.It is the receptive atmosphere that allows ideas to become improvement realities.

8. SENIOR MANAGEMENT SUPPORT

Employees need to understand how their ideas can contribute to the organisation’s success. This means that they have to believe in its overall purpose and values and also will be given suitable resources and backing if working on new ideas.

9. TRANSPARENCY

Transparency and honesty arethe key to create a culture of innovation. It’s important that employees understand what each other are working on and feel able to share knowledge and ideas and give constructive feedback.Using social collaboration platforms can be helpful in this context in order to provide employees with a platform to share innovative ideas that would otherwise go unnoticed.

10. REWARDS AND RECOGNITION FOR INNOVATION

Happy Employees = Happy Clients = Happy Profit. Therefor developing and maintaining an effective reward and recognition system is a key aspect of maintaining and encouraging innovation. Employee rewards and recognition system is not just a positive thing to do with employees but communicating it effectively is an efficient tool in encouraging them to ideate.

You hired the people who work for you because of their talent and skills – and today is the day to start putting all of that talent to use in new and innovative ways. Start now and you will be well on your way to taking your organization to the next level.If your business does not already have in place a platform to encourage and reward new ideas, signing up for a collaboration software might prove prudent.

About the Author:
Vipin Thomas, Product Manager, MangoApps (Twitter: @vipint7)
[Click here to sign up for free for MangoApps until Dec 2012.]