Six best innovation practices to engage Millennials and Gen Zers

All businesses are created first by ideas. Then, once you are in business, you need new thinking for design, engineering, radical improvement, manufacturing, marketing, advertising, problem-solving, customer retention, etc. Often the difference between success or failure in business is a simple idea.

On the one hand, many corporations have limited resources, funds, and time to give creative dreamers sufficient power to produce breakthrough ideas. On the other hand, other companies have many ideas, but are short on ways to assess, screen, prioritise, leverage and execute them.

Disciplined and well-managed creativity breeds successful idea generation and cross-pollination. Idea management systems and processes can help your company make innovation a discipline. They can help make the hunt for new possibilities each and every department’s business, as well as involving broader and more enthusiastic participation among managers and employees.

As we have seen, building a collaborative innovation culture comes hand in hand with conquering Millennials and Generation Z. This means you not only have to promote innovative thinking in your organisation, but also have to get a feel and touch in your corporate culture that inspire and retain these new generations.

Finally, remember as well the following six best practices:

  • Have strong leadership and role modelling
  • Promote regular learning
  • Give employees self-improvement possibilities
  • Create free time for interests and new ideas
  • Encourage and reward ideas and creativity
  • Do not forget mobile and flexible platforms to reach employees

Any organisation’s most valuable resource is its people. That being so, the capacity to obtain and inspire the best, most innovative and competent employees and to attract the leaders of tomorrow is the ultimate key for your company’s success.

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

How innovation can help you conquer the new generations

A Gallup report shows that US companies lose $350 billion in revenue every year due to employees’ disengagement. In fact, 70 per cent of your employees are probably disengaged. Yet full participation is an emotional commitment that cannot be forced.

With the Millennials and Generation Z joining the workplace, the challenge rises: no longer can we believe that it is enough for a company to provide the work, and that an employee’s motivation will come naturally.

What is more, data shows that employees want to be more innovative at work and want to take more responsibility. This tells us that fostering creative environments and innovation initiatives will also nurture motivation, engagement and, therefore, productivity.

Three perspectives on the value of making companies more inclusive and collaborative

Innovation can be defined as the development of customer value through solutions that meet new, undefined, or existing market needs in unique ways. Solutions may include new or more effective products, processes, services,  technologies, or ideas that are more readily available to markets, governments and society.

The development of a corporate culture where innovation is incentivised and becomes the way of doing business can bring companies several advantages, according to different points of view:

  • From an organisational perspective, managers encourage innovation because of the value it can capture. Innovative employees increase productivity by creating and executing new processes, which in turn may strengthen competitive advantages and provide meaningful differentiation. Innovative organisations are inherently more adaptable to the external environment; this allows them to react faster and more effectively to avoid risk and capture opportunities.
  • From a managerial perspective, innovative employees tend naturally to be more motivated and involved in the organisation. Empowering employees to innovate and improve their work processes provides a sense of autonomy that boosts job satisfaction.
  • From a broader perspective, empowering employees to engage in broader organisation-wide innovation creates a strong sense of teamwork and community and ensures that employees are actively aware of and invest in organisational objectives and strategy.

In this sense, managers who promote an innovative environment can see value through increased employee motivation, creativity, and autonomy; stronger teams; and strategic recommendations from the bottom up.

READ MORE:
How to create a culture of collaborative innovation in younger generations

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

Exago featured in Gartner’s “Market Guide for Innovation Management Tools 2017”

For the third consecutive year, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company references Exago as one of the software providers with traction and visibility in the idea management industry. Exago reaches 100% depth of functionality in idea collection, refinement and review, idea portfolio management, idea execution, as well as mobile offer and user experience.

Gartner’s “Market Guide for Innovation Management Tools 2017” highlights Exago’s “comprehensive idea management process”, with the option to outsource screening with specific requirements, along with other platform management and advisory services. The report also emphasises how in the last year “Exago came up with a new release that introduced the ability to customize the idea workflow according to client’s innovation process and enhanced its reporting and UX capabilities”.

Even if innovation programmes can exist without this technology, Gartner says it can benefit them greatly: by focusing creativity in key business challenges, promoting engagement, easily structuring and managing each innovation stage and opening the innovation challenge to internal and external participants. The transformation to digital business is also “increasing IT leaders’ interest in software to support innovation initiatives”.

Gartner’s “Market Guide for Innovation Management Tools 2017” offers insightful market recommendations, harnessing the most complete data collection for industry members and prospective innovation software buyers. Exago was previously referenced in the guide’s 2015 and 2016 editions.

 

You can register for access to the research here.

 

Strategic cost-cutting is not dead, and we are here to prove it

Leaders with a clear vision tend to use cost-cutting and improvement to align costs with business strategy. The trend gained ground in the last decade, as world turmoil intensified and growth became a more elusive and complex goal to reach.

With low investments and rising risks, companies gamble on cost-cutting and improvement to ensure that they are prepared and equipped to grow stronger, as they wait for better times to come. In its 2013 third biennial cost survey, ‘Save to grow. Cost-improvement practices and trends in the Fortune 1000’, Deloitte underlined that cost-cutting was seen more and more as a ‘way to drive growth, rather than as way to survive or avoid insolvency’.

However, aggressive cost-cutting tactics under pressure will not salvage companies. The change has to go deeper, reaching a strategic level. This means that a company’s most valuable assets, people and their talents, must be mobilised, ‘consistent with a growth mindset, since having qualified workers and deploying them effectively is key to successful growth’, writes Deloitte.

In their recent paper, Exago’s CEO Diana Carvalho and our Sales Executive Andreia Dias show how a successful cost-cutting strategy is connected to the organisation’s capacity to evolve, to innovate, and to do it as whole. They explain how this process should start internally by capturing the wisdom of each employee, but how it can also reach external stakeholders, harnessing their potentially powerful insights, creating communities around the company and building communication bridges with clients and suppliers.

A successful cost-cutting and improvement strategy indeed helps companies lower costs, focus on the aspects of the business that are controllable and free up resources to fund transformation and future growth. And sustainable growth, by its essence, cannot exist without ongoing innovation. To make it work in your organisation, Andreia and Diana guide you through five major steps.

Feel free to reach us for the full paper at info@exago.com.

Putting the Daily Innovation Model together

We’ve seen how you can locate your position in the Daily Innovation Model, built to help companies see innovation as a daily function of their job. When we place the continua on two axes – incremental to radical and process to product – things get interesting and we end up with four quadrants:

Innovation Quadrant for Corporate Innovation

Quadrant 1 – Steady growth
At the bottom right lies incremental-product innovation or change. I’ve labelled it “steady growth.” A company that is constantly looking to improve its offering to the market will enjoy the fruits of its labour in small, steady doses. An example is a box of cereal “now fortified with iron,” that gives a boost to flagging sales of “regular” cereal. Or a management consulting business that adds tax advice into its offering. Through steady growth you milk existing clients for more or add smaller niche segments to already served markets.

Quadrant 2 – Productivity gain

To the left of steady growth lies Productivity Gain, where incremental-process innovations happen. These can be classified as small changes in the way we produce and deliver our goods and services. Streamlining paperwork, reducing steps, tweaks to the shop floor, technology improvements, material substitution and others classify as process improvements. The big benefit to the company comes through cost reduction or improved efficiency. Like “Steady Growth” these gains will also impact the bottom line in a gradual incremental manner.

Quadrant 3 – Industry Leadership
The third quadrant appears at the intersection of radical and process innovation and results in Industry Leadership. A great example would be the assembly line. The original static assembly line that R.E. Olds invented in 1902 resulted in an increase in production from 425 to 2,500 cars. Henry Ford then incrementally innovated this into the moving assembly line. The problem with industry leadership of this nature is that it suffers from the Red Queen effect. While the company may reap big dividends in the short run, the position of leadership will remain short-lived – until competitors start adopting the same methods. In the words of a U2 song, they are all “running to stand still.”

Quadrant 4 – Game Change

Here is where things really get interesting in the Daily Innovation Model. Radical-product innovation is the holy grail. Most of the stories we hear are from this domain. Uber, self driving cars, robotics, microprocessors et al, changed the game for their founding companies, their customers and also for a lot more upstream and downstream providers. While they hog all the limelight, the truth behind the scenes is not unlike the cinema or sports industries. All we see are the stars, and none of the failures by the wayside. And neither do we see the effort and resources that went into the success.

It is easy to talk after the fact about the young kid who dropped out of college because he  in his invention, and became a billionaire by age 30. Yet how many of us would actually take that risk? Because along with a lot of reward at the game changing end of the spectrum, there also lies a lot of risk, hard work and an exponential potential to fail.

But how can you conquer your own Daily Innovation Zone? We’ll see that next.

READ MORE:
How to conquer your Daily Innovation Zone

FROM THE START:
“Innovation is not for us”, they say

By Rumman Ahmad. An MSc in Creativity and Change Leadership from Buffalo State University, Rumman trains, teaches and facilitates groups of people to learn and apply the creative process to solve problems, energizing and motivating them to do their best. He is also the organizer of an annual conference on innovation in Pakistan. An Exago partner since 2016 in this key geography, Rumman has developed a Model for Daily Innovation which can be complemented by Exago’s innovation management software.