Innovation training day: Exago team updates its facilitation skills

With the aim of improving our team’s skills as innovation workshop facilitators, several Exago employees are attending a certified Workshop Facilitation Training in Lisbon, Portugal.

The session covers topics such as better communication, posture and participation promotion and is arming our teams with the latest facilitation tools and techniques. It was designed to enable them to provide our clients with informative and engaging innovation workshops that draw the most benefits throughout the innovation cycle.

How Human Resource leaders make the most of innovation management

With innovation management capturing rising interest from human resource managers and directors, Exago’s team took part in the Expo’RH2018 in Estoril, Portugal, to discuss the latest news and trends in the sector. The event organised by the International Faculty for Executives gathered hundreds of HR directors from leading companies such as Nestlé, Ageas, Pfizer, Renova and McDonald’s, under the motto “Experience is the way”, on March 14 and 15.

In the spotlight was the importance of communication for employee engagement. Effective communication not only has to be continuous, but also two-sided, said Maria do Rosário Vilhena, Human Resource Director of Nestlé Portugal. The food and drink company is using focus groups to launch internal challenges and collect insights, while searching for better ways to convey “consistent messages to everyone” across the different business units of their large organisation, “and to be understood by all”.

Ongoing communication and a close relationship with employees has also been part of Renova’s success, explained their HR Director, Paulo Santos. The family-run paper consumption goods company expanded internationally as “the sexiest paper on Earth” and is a renowned case study for incremental innovation.

To open communication channels and bring together the experience and know-how of all employees, larger, multinational companies are also using platforms that allow them to reach their people across business units and geographical locations.

Promoting change through your innovation programme
Internal communication is critical in processes of organisational change, according to Paulo Teixeira, Pfizer Portugal Country Manager. The pharmaceuticals company opened a communication channel with employees through a post box placed in each business location to get ideas and suggestions, but also their feedback. Similarly, an internal tool has supported the recent image and culture change at Montepio bank, Fátima Silva, Head of Talent & Development at Montepio bank, told the audience.

To strategically realign its workforce, the insurance company Ageas used Ding!, built on Exago innovation management software. After Ageas bought AXA’s Portuguese operations, Ding! is helping the company spread its organisational culture and communicate with all the employees from the different brands they now operate, Portugal Human Resource Director Rita Baptista said.

“Listening to our employees was the most important factor for this successful transition, since we were able to make people feel part of that change,” she added. The Ageas management was able to promote company goals and engage people in the process of transformation, bringing everyone together in a collaborative innovation platform.

The HR Director of ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal, Catarina Horta, also highlighted the importance of a company’s collective intelligence as a learning tool.

Keeping in mind the words of Ray Kroc
The quote “None of us is as good as all of us” is attributed to the founder of McDonald’s and defines the company’s DNA, says Sofia Mendonça, HR Director of McDonald’s Portugal. She explains how collaborators, franchisees and suppliers are the corporate pillars involved in the business evolution. The iconic 50-year-old Big Mac, for example, is a by-product of this approach: it was originally suggested by a Pittsburgh franchisee after several construction workers commented that the hamburgers were too small.

McDonald’s connects with those three pillars through several types of channels, both face to face and digital. Gamification and social features, along with a vivid communication tone, are particularly relevant in the digital linking to their workforce, whose average age is between 19 and 23.

Why is innovation management a powerful tool to engage Generations Y and Z

Large companies looking for creative and transforming ideas need to leverage innovation management to conquer employees, particularly Gen Zers and Millennials. Those leading must develop the mindset and organisational structures to empower these younger generations and help them reach full potential, while being part of their company’s evolution.

Being able to align an individual’s everyday work and goals clearly with the organisation’s strategy gets people to think in new ways and imagine new possibilities. It makes it easy for employees to see how their contributions matter.

An innovation management software can help you share your company’s vision and strategy, get people involved, and continuously find new answers, as change becomes constant. Additionally, by including evaluation mechanisms, these sophisticated platforms give the community the chance and means to assess, as a whole, the ideas presented – thus harnessing and activating your company’s collective intelligence.

Idea management software (such as Exago Smart) also promotes a collaborative culture, for individuals and the community, answering directly to the main needs and motivations of both Millennials and Generation Z, as the following table shows:

innovation management to engage generations y and z

As innovation becomes the natural way of doing business for both these generations, organisations should focus on gathering and maximising their potential. The greater challenge, however, lies in managing this process in an efficient, collaborative and transparent way, using technology as a bridge to make their voices and contributions a real part of the corporate evolutionary path.

READ MORE:
Six best innovation practices to engage Millennials and Gen Zers

FROM THE START:
Loyalty is no longer enough to both employers and the workforce

Aylin Olsun, managing partner of ASO Company
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

Set the timing right for your innovation challenges

Now that you have identified your key innovation challenges and built them properly, remember to set the timings. Not only does the commitment to a deadline make participants focus, but this also helps you when defining goals with realistic deadlines.

Still, this does not mean one-time, finite initiatives or efforts. As one of our client says, ‘Innovation requires a lot of work, not only to describe ideas well but also to develop them.’ This is true from ideation through to collaborative idea improvement and implementation. For optimal results, you also have to roll-out an appropriate, ongoing communication plan, as described before, establishing medium- to long-term commitment to the project and implementing top ideas as you move forward.

Each cycle end further gives you the time you need to concentrate on implementation, evaluate the initiative, make improvement, tweak ideas and prepare to launch the next cycle of challenges.

THESE ACTIVATION QUESTIONS CAN HELP YOU:
  • How much time do we need to address this challenge?
  • Is a solution reachable within a two to three-month challenge? Or should we break down the challenge further?

Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO/ dnc@exago.com
Francisco Bernardes, Exago’s head of Innovation Services/ fmb@exago.com

READ MORE:
Five key dimensions for building your innovation challenges

FROM THE START:
Your ultimate innovation challenge – what works and what doesn’t

Are you building your innovation challenges right?

Having identified your key innovation challenges – aligned with your company’s higher purpose and strategic goals and made attainable, useful and targeted – it’s time to focus on describing them plainly and completely, to guarantee you’ll get meaningful content:

  • Make your innovation challenges as specific as you can: Break down the challenge’s macro theme into smaller challenges. We’ve learned that the narrower the scope of the challenge, the more imaginative the audience becomes, thus the more meaningful the ideas you’ll secure.
  • Clearly state and justify the need for a solution: Explain why exactly we can all benefit from this challenge.
  • Contextualise the problem and share the findings: Try to understand what has been done within that precise topic in the past, by your company and other competitors. Background checking can recall opportunities, dismiss dead ends and provide key ways to explain the innovation challenge in more detail to participants.
  • Promote ideation with related insights: These last are very useful tools to share the learning process and background details with participants.
  • Make sure also to respect grammar and orthography and send out clear messages:
    • Communications of challenges must use correct syntactic structures and clear sentences.
    • Vocabulary has to be familiar to participants. Business or technical jargon may seem obvious to you. Don’t assume it is to others.
    • Direct questions are a good option, when used in a positive way. This is true even for more driven exploration challenges.

If people do not understand the challenges they face, how can you expect them to participate? Unclear language will also compromise your audience’s future participation.

Here’s a client insight on the subject:

‘It’s very important to add insights and share them in ways we know will mean employees will check these insights.

Usually, our insights include descriptive information provided by the area that manages the subject, including some statistical data. We want to make sure our teams understand the challenges, particularly when these are more complex, and avoid the submission of ideas that we have already implemented or discussed.

Imagine the challenge “How to encourage SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] to set up online stores?”: In this case, we would present statistical information on SMEs in our country, explaining how many there are, what their types are and so on, so that employees understand the target better. Also, we would mention our company’s current offer for these customers, changes and improvements that have already been planned and possible tempting proposals that have been analysed but are not yet in the market (i.e. trying to ward off those apparently obvious ideas).’

Finally, try these activation questions:

  • Am I saying clearly how we can all benefit from this challenge?
  • Is this really one or more challenges? If so, which ones?
  • Are we asking the right questions?
  • What other approaches were attempted in the past?
  • Are we providing enough insights to power ideation?

 

READ MORE:
Set the timing right for your innovation challenges

FROM THE START:
Your ultimate innovation challenge – what works and what doesn’t

Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO / dnc@exago.com
Francisco Bernardes, Exago’s head of Innovation Services / fmb@exago.com