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.

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

Never forget your most valuable innovation asset

When targeting participants for your open innovation programme, consider suppliers, customers and universities. But don’t forget your most valuable asset: your employees are themselves a community of stakeholders, often from different countries, cultures, backgrounds and businesses. They are your most important open innovation source.

In this sense, after laying out goals, challenges and workflow designs to engage your external contributors using a software platform, your innovation initiative provider should also help you to integrate the generated content with your internal community. This means you invite your people to screen and evaluate the best contributions given by those external participants, adopting the software platform for their own purposes.

They will help you deal with and efficiently assess expected high volumes of information – and to decide which contributions a final jury should analyse to find the competition’s winner. By doing this, you gather and leverage your organisation’s collective intelligence, aligning it with initiative’s goals.

True, your teams may have their own orthodoxies. But remember they can identify, better than anyone else can, both ‘false positives’ (ideas that seem auspicious but wouldn´t work in your organisation) and ‘false negatives’ (ideas seemingly outside your scope but carrying unexpected value).

This approach also makes sure that you don’t get stuck in bureaucratic monsters, when having to analyse all inputs received. It lets you focus on the process’s later stages, promoting transparency, winning sponsorship and accelerating decision-making and implementation within your organisation.

All in all, while embarking upon your open innovation quest, be sure to capture equally high external and internal levels of engagement. The entire initiative and evaluation process, in particular, must be efficient, and the balance between your external and internal collective intelligence is key to get it successfully done.

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s co-founder/ pdc@exago.com

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