Exago unleashes the force of ideas through an ideation workshop

Because we know how powerful collaborative innovation can be, the Exago team took part in an ideation workshop to align ideas for the next evolution of our organisation’s roadmap.

Playfully named ‘The Force Awakens’, the aim of the ideation session was to unleash the force of our people’s ideas in order to find the best solutions for internal challenges.

The workshop followed the design thinking model, with a focus on user experience (UX), whereby members from different departments were split into separate teams to gain full benefit of their multidisciplinary knowledge and experiences.

Once some of the challenges were defined, and after a brief ‘cerebral warm-up’ to help generate ideas, the teams first completed divergence exercises to generate a large amount of ideas, followed by convergence exercises that involved a clustering session and final idea selection.

Through this co-creation, more ideas were brought to the fore. The session also fostered a feeling of teamwork and collaboration, helping Exago improve its future roadmap and involving all employees in the process.

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.

Optimise your cost-cutting strategy with the right innovation management tool

When investing in a bottom-up innovation management approach, you get to call on people’s knowledge and experience to help you separate the wheat from the chaff and find concrete and innovative solutions, mainly at micro level. You can save time and money by having your employees contribute ideas for the cost-cutting strategy, as well as cost-optimisation ideas that can transform and impact the company positively. Examples from our clients show just that.

Simple ideas such as ‘set as default printing on both sides’, ‘reduce the number of floors or buildings being used during night or weekend shifts’ or ‘use more efficient watering systems in the green areas of the company’ can have significant impacts on your costs. What’s more, they can boost morale by promoting a culture of sustainability, in all corners of your company.

 

When can an innovation management software be useful?

In large multinational companies with multi-regional presence, it may however be difficult to listen to all your people on the ground. Through its capacity to engage employees across borders, an innovation management platform becomes a powerful tool.

If this is the case in your organisation, make sure you get a solution that offers multi-language features – where employees can have access to the content and strategic cost-cutting challenges presented by management in their native language and make use of their business knowledge to create ideas and help others improve theirs.

Your innovation management platform should be centralised, but allow for the creation of target and country communities to which specific challenges can be issued. Think, for instance, how remote the problem of wasting paper bags in stores in the US can seem to someone building components in Asia.

Gamification elements are also valuable, as they are designed to capture different types of participants, to develop greater loyalty and promote higher use. Participation will be more frequent when users feel their ideas and insights are valued and turn into real solutions.

Andreia Agostinho Dias, Sales Executive
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

You can access the full paper here

 

Step 3: Invest more in a bottom-up approach for your innovation agenda

When developing your innovation agenda, bear in mind that employees deal with inefficiencies in your company daily, often having diverse and powerful ideas related to organisational processes and products. They also have opinions and insights concerning the areas and processes in which it could make more sense to cut or to invest.

Top-down approaches sometimes bring your initiatives from micro level to macro level, relying on transformational opportunities to reduce costs. Yet they do it without looking at the whole picture, unable to identify the real inefficiencies, unable to create a sustained way to drive costs and to change inefficient spending behaviours.

You can save time and money by having your employees contribute ideas for the cost-cutting strategy, as well as cost-optimisation ideas that can transform and impact the company positively.

Any ‘reductions’ or ‘cuts’ should aim at building a more robust organisation, in search of innovative ways to redefine itself. There are limitless options according to your reality. Have a look at some sample results from customers who incorporated a cost-cutting strategy in their innovation agenda:

  • By selling obsolete stock items to employees interested in buying them, an organisation generated a new revenue source and freed storage space, allowing a much more rational use of space;
  • A client was able to streamline its customer support call centre efficiently, improving service quality and vastly reducing the number of calls received by the customer service department, simply by adopting different colours for cables, routers and set-top boxes;
  • They also saved €2M with a new, eco-friendlier packaging system;
  • Another client embraced distribution of administrative documents by bike, a cool and eco-friendly idea with significant results: by replacing 30% of the motorcycles with bike couriers, distribution costs were reduced and almost a ton of CO2 emissions was saved in just seven months.

STEP 3 advises you to invest more on a bottom-up approach, calling on people’s knowledge and experience to help you separate the wheat from the chaff and find concrete and innovative solutions, mainly at micro level.

Andreia Agostinho Dias, Sales Executive
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

You can access the full paper here

 

For step 2 in cost-cutting within your innovation agenda, you will need this

Having defined the strategic cost-cutting goals within your innovation agenda, it needs to be run with the same board sponsorship, direction and accountability as any other critical initiative. It is important to ensure central governance, senior management agreement and employee engagement.

The centralisation of a cost-cutting initiative is vital to avoid project duplications, to benefit from synergies and to focus on clear areas of improvement.

However, the initiative should also have branches and an army dispersed across the company, mobilising directors and managers of the different areas around this innovation movement and opening minds to collect insights from every contributor. Right from the point of planning, make sure you identify the sponsors from each business area of the strategic cost-cutting and improvement programme.

People with the capacity to make decisions based on employee insights must be mobilised and should have defined timeframes to gather specific insights and execute changes aligned with your innovation agenda. In other words, the cost strategy should be promoted by the company’s leadership, sponsored by the management team and be engaging enough to capture employees’ participation.

STEP 2 is therefore about delivering cost optimisation with the support of the CEO and top managers, helping you clearly define areas of innovation and improvement from the beginning, as well as how to address each of these areas.

Andreia Agostinho Dias, Sales Executive
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

You can access the full paper here