10 tips for more innovation from within
With digitisation, pressure is increasing on businesses to remain innovative. A great treasure of creativity is slumbering in your own employees’ heads. Here are ten tips to bring it out.
The world of work is in transition. Old structures are being questioned; consolidated processes are being confronted with new models. Even historic companies and traditional industries increasingly understand the pressure to innovate that comes from the global digitisation process as an opportunity for renewal.
What is becoming clearer in the course of this transformation is that a new project management tool or a large office with a kicker table are far from sufficient to exploit the full innovation potential of digitisation. The secret of the power of innovation emanating from Silicon Valley’s tech giants does not seem to lie in any particular technology or organisational mode but, rather, it involves looking for a new, open-minded corporate culture that rewards experimentation and the taking of risks.
Transformation Direction Industry 4.0 can succeed only if companies are able to realise their full potential and are prepared to create optimal conditions for a new culture of innovation. What is at stake is to activate the most important resource available to companies and to involve this resource in the process: your employees!
There are now a variety of proven methods and approaches to involve your own employees actively in the company’s innovation strategy. Here are ten of the best known:
1. Give your employees more freedom and flexibility:
“Flexibility” has been a buzzword in the new world of work for several years now, yet it is only practiced to a limited extent in many large companies. There are examples that show that freedoms in time and space can have a tangible impact on a company’s innovation power: Google is famous for making 20% of its employees’ total working time available to them to develop their personal projects.
2. Create opportunities for open exchange between all team members:
Regular in-house events or systems that foster an open culture of discussion are an important component of an innovative corporate culture: book-reading circles can also be part of this as can Article-Reading Contests, where every employee is encouraged to present interesting articles and explain their relevance for the company.
3. Encourage your employees to share their experiences:
Another way to encourage public discussion is so-called Experience Sharing, involving employees presenting particularly important or instructive experiences as regards the Company itself as well as their further professional life.
4. Choose examples of Best Practices to motivate and inspire the team:
A particular variant of Experience Sharing can directly target selecting examples of best practices and presenting them effectively in an in-house company blog or journal.
5. Give appreciation to successes, including those on an individual level:
Successes can and should be adequately acknowledged and recognised, not only traditionally through promotions and rewards, but in a more creative way: for example, innovative products can be named after the employee who was principally involved in their development.
6. You should also appreciate failures if important lessons can be drawn from them:
An honest, transparent and positive “culture of failure” can only arise if the positive value of an experience of failure is publicly acknowledged and presented, so organise evenings or systems in which major failures are discussed and their value for the company is reflected upon.
7. Create a (digital) place to collect ideas easily:
After all, we are living in a digital age! So why not reintroduce the classic Ideas Box in a digital version? Employees can share ideas and suggestions quickly and anonymously in the digital Ideas Box.
8. Set up internal innovation platforms:
The principle of the digital Ideas Box can be expanded into a real innovation platform with forums, chats and discussion groups in which suggestions and ideas can be discussed and voted by all participants. To encourage participation, these platforms lend themselves to introducing gaming principles, such as leader-boards, points, small prizes etc.
9. Introduce rewards to encourage participation:
Considering the amount of time that the above examples can occupy, it is important to create clear incentives that can take the form of classic rewards such as free tickets for events or extra holidays.
10. Find the creators and innovators in your company:
One last example to consider is the importance of intra-preneurship programmes. In principle, these work in a similar way to classic business incubators, with the process taking place predominantly within the same company: innovative employees with a founding ethos and ideas are identified and encouraged by targeted programmes to realise their projects. Since the whole process takes place internally, the dangers and risks of the market can be ignored in the initial phase, so that innovation potential and creativity can unfold unhindered.
As a company, we are always open to new ideas. For this, we have established a culture of openness among our employees in order to be able to push forward with digitisation among our customers.