Whether it’s creating new products or finding new ways to grab customers’ attention, creativity is the backbone of innovation. And in the workplace, it is more important than ever in order to stay competitive. Not all companies, however, are prepared to push innovation within their organisations. Some resist change; others may try but find barriers to ideas and innovation, which can stem from organisational structures and leadership or from the employees themselves.
To change this way of thinking and doing, team innovation and collaboration should not be underestimated. The truth is that any workforce is probably brimming with new ideas, but may not feel they have a channel to share their thoughts. While you can gain inspiration from some of the biggest global players who have perfected the art of creativity (Google Ventures, for example, runs design sprints, IDEO follows 7 brainstorming rules), there are other ways to encourage employees to share their brilliance and feel confident they will be heard. Here are just 3:
- Bring back the suggestion box
Remember the days of the old-fashioned suggestion box? The concept remains as relevant as ever, but nowadays it has gone digital. Whether your organisation is able to develop a system through an employee intranet or you decide to invest in an idea management tool, a digital suggestion box encourages your people to give suggestions, share insights and come up with ideas that have the potential to really impact innovation in your business.
- Celebrate great ideas (and their sources)
An engaged employee is a productive employee, and recognition can have a long-term impact on employee engagement. It could be in the form of an internal announcement, a personal thank you or a rewards programme. Whatever it is, recognising and rewarding those employees who come up with the best ideas is a meaningful way to make them feel valued, engaged and motivated to keep working towards their organisation’s innovation goals. Gamification techniques, for example, are widely used to engage employees and can easily be incorporated into your innovation management programme.
- Encourage learning and research
People are always more invested in things they are passionate about. Encouraging employees to do their own research, like looking into new technologies or reading articles that interest them, can inspire them in ways that can potentially add value to the company. Google goes even further with its 20% rule: by spending up to 20% of their time at work every week on projects that inspire them, Google employees have given the company the likes of Gmail, AdSense and other of its winning products. Employees should also be encouraged to broaden their horizons through ongoing learning. By investing in courses, workshops or training programmes, organisations can build a more skilled, better-rounded and more confident workforce.
Essentially, encouraging ideas and embracing the inputs of your workforce builds an atmosphere of creativity and collaboration, the foundations of an innovation culture that drives any innovation management programme. You can find more insights on harnessing collective intelligence here.