How to create a culture of collaborative innovation in younger generations

We have seen how Millennials and Generation Z are often disconnected from the strategic vision of a big organisation because they cannot see any links between their everyday work and the company’s business objectives.

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. Alignment with the organisation’s strategy becomes a personal matter, creating the foundation for increasing both engagement and personal satisfaction.

People on the front lines have, in fact, a unique perspective given their skills, experience and view into the organisation. Inviting employees to participate in the decision-making process by sharing their ideas about their work offers leaders multiple and very diverse points of view.

If you inspire people to think strategically about work, they will find ways to solve problems and opportunities for innovation that have the potential to elevate overall performance – and potentially improve their employees’ retention ratio.

With idea management software, such as Exago Smart, you can launch strategic business challenges and invite each employee to share ideas and insights on them. In other words, it allows employees, as individuals, to participate and have a say in building the company’s future together – aligning goals, seeking greater engagement and stimulating creative thinking and collaboration.

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.

In this sense, innovation management software can help you continuously find new answers, as change becomes constant. It also promotes a collaborative culture, for individuals and the community, answering directly to the main needs and motivations of both Millennials and Generation Z.

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

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 partners with Microsoft for optimal innovation software performance

Exago announces a technological and business partnership with Microsoft, to strengthen its product scalability and performance and to accelerate growth in sales. Now hosted by the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform, Exago’s collaborative innovation SaaS solution is fully set to grow alongside corporate innovation programmes, supporting unlimited users’ increase in multiple geographical locations. The software is already available in eight different language options.

Exago’s CEO, Diana Neves de Carvalho, explains that this technological partnership “answers clients’ increasing security concerns worldwide. Exago’s infrastructure, hosted by Microsoft Azure, can now guarantee total network and perimeter security, as well as compliance with all major industry standards”. Based on the most frequently used web technologies, Microsoft software ensures fast and controlled upgrades, as well as business continuity.

Exago and Microsoft will be working together to open new business channels and explore strategic markets. Recognising the needs of start-ups and small- and medium-sized companies that develop technology solutions, Microsoft also wants to accelerate existing and new solutions and applications to the market. “Exago’s Idea Market software allows companies to efficiently manage their innovation challenges and continuously find new solutions and growth paths. We therefore believe we are investing in the future,” says Diogo Pinto de Sousa, Partners Director at Microsoft.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services, devices and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

How to mobilise the right audiences for innovation challenges

When putting your innovation challenges together, make sure you have a complete plan with clearly defined, targeted audiences, across cultures and business units, as well as key messages, frequency expectations and a communication and incentives strategy. The overall point is to know and hit your targets:

• Target your skills and expertise first: Within your organisation, you almost certainly have people with different types of expertise, from several areas of knowledge, studies and work fields and with different conceptual and practical know-how. It’s this diversity and richness that you want to connect to, and focus on, real business problem-solving. Still, according to your challenge’s specificities – more or less technical and more or less field-related – you may have to engage more restricted groups within your organisation, such as engineers, lab technicians, machine operators and analysts. You may also need to look outside your company’s walls to include suppliers, external experts and other stakeholders. Your innovation tools should allow you to do just that.

• Ask yourself what you are mostly looking for: The framework shown below may be of use to identify your challenge goals and target community.

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• Remember innovation challenges do not capture all individuals’ interest in the same way: You have to create empathy, establish almost an emotional commitment. This is also of critical importance in geographically spread-out organisations. For example, inefficiency in a headquarter compound’s energy use in Switzerland is probably completely irrelevant to the same company’s Peruvian employees. Although corporate challenges need to intersect your entire organisation, remember to align them to local reality, also making room for more explicit priorities within specific industry and geographic focuses.

• Seek some balance: Use both specific geographic or know-how groups (i.e. targeted groups), if needed, but always launch more broadly-based innovation challenges, to increase the sense of community and improve transversal collaboration.

• Take into account again that, across geographies and cultures, people are different: Individuals can be more social or insightful, more creative or more logical and critical thinkers – skills that you also want to leverage. The most typical behaviours can be connected with four profiles used in the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology:
Achievers participate the most with ideas and comments to gather as many points as possible. They become huge contributors.
Explorers, who love to look around, are great at helping the community discover other potential contributions. They submit insights and diversify overall participation by doing everything.
Socialisers stimulate others to enhance their contributions. They submit many suggestions for improvement and love to check out what is going on, as well as watch leaderboards.
Killers love to compete for the sake of competing, and they are very active in the selection and evaluation process of ideas. They are great at differentiating what is good from what is less good and even greater at clarifying those ideas that are no good at all.

Participating has to not only be attractive and entertaining but also inclusive of all these types of players. Idea management software can help you do this as long as it allows several types of participation, such as idea and insight submission, comments to improve ideas and individual and crowd evaluation. From the beginning of the initiative and over time, gamification techniques also will prove helpful to engage your audiences in the innovation challenges.

• Make sure also that you have an appropriate system of incentives and recognition in place: This meets your audience’s different aspirations and motivations, stirring idea generation and added-value contributions. Periodic cycles of incentives – connected to challenge cycles – will ensure people want to improve their participation and remain involved over time. Remember as well to align the incentives with your publicly communicated purpose.

• Communicate continuously, from the beginning and as the process evolves: Good communication will play a part in making the challenge attractive to those who are called to participate. The more individuals see the success of projects to which they have contributed, the more likely they are to remain mobilised. For this undertaking, involve your communication teams – on a country and business level as well – in developing more detailed and well-oriented plans.

HERE’S WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY ON THE SUBJECT:

‘The innovation challenges we launch for particular groups are typically more narrow because we are communicating to a target very familiar with a given topic or reality. We can then start from a more specific point and ask for answers that are more concrete. In more general challenges, we always chose more open questions, although we also guide these groups with insights to lead them and frame the challenge’s scope (explaining what exists, what is already being done and what has been tried without success).’

‘It’s important to match needs and competencies. Also, it’s very important to deliver feedback. Always.’

 

FINALLY, TRY THESE ACTIVATION QUESTIONS:
  • To whom is this innovation challenge useful, and who can benefit from meeting it? (This question supports you through alignment with country and department priorities.)
  • What incentives and messages should I use to engage my different teams?
  • Does it create empathy with the target?
  • Is the challenge being communicated in an attractive way?
  • Do I need specific skills or knowledge to meet this challenge?

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

READ MORE:
Are you building your innovation challenges right?

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

Our Innovation Gurus are the best

Fleury Group, Portugal Telecom and Liberty Seguros have been awarded the 2016 Exago Innovation Gurus Awards for their innovation, resilience and creativity. The winning teams of the initiative’s first edition have received and celebrated their trophies. Cheers to all winners!

THE RESILIENCE TO INNOVATE
Portugal Telecom is Exago’s 2016 Innovation Farmer. With a structured innovation programme that’s been evolving for almost a decade now, PT developed over 20 related communication initiatives in 2016, using both internal and external media, as well as offline communication, to involve the entire organisation.

According to Dalila Martins, Head of Organisational Communication at Portugal Telecom, “Innovation is a strategic pillar stone at PT and the OPEN programme makes it clear that, in our company, this is a process everyone can and must participate in. Launched in 2009, the programme has allowed us to spread a culture of innovation within the organisation, with important contributions to work processes’ improvement, new product development and customer relationships”. Dalila adds that “Exago has proved itself an excellence partner in this challenge, since moment one. Idea Market, Exago’s platform, is an indispensable tool in harnessing and implementing the ideas suggested by our employees to answer to our shared innovation challenges.”

To acknowledge this commitment to sustainable innovation, Exago has planted 100 trees in the name of Portugal Telecom via the Canopy Project – an initiative that strengthens communities worldwide through tree planting.

HUNTING FOR BEST PRACTICES IN INNOVATION
Liberty Seguros is our 2016 Innovation Hunter for its pledge to include all business units in the quest for new creative solutions – leading internal teams towards more innovative paths, with joint initiatives, strong leadership support and efficient and original incentives.

Rui Barata, Head of Planning and Management Information Systems, explains that “Liberty has believed in this project since the beginning and in its potential to value each employee’s ideas. We are learning together that ideas, innovation and gamification are three pillars that walk side by side and definitely work well. The process of idea transformation is happening at Liberty right now, becoming part of people’s mindset and our company’s DNA”.

Liberty’s innovation team was challenged – and scored highly – in an Escape Game challenge, further boosting its creativity and curiosity.

KEEPING THE FOCUS ON RESULTS

Last but not least, Innovation Bookkeeper 2016 was awarded to Fleury Group. Fleury demonstrated consistent focus in results measurement, achieving a remarkable return on investment of its innovation initiative. Over 90 implemented ideas directly contributed to an estimated 400% ROI. The group will receive a free Exago Innovation Service, during an ideation cycle, to explore more and new ways to optimise its results.

Amanda Ferri Curti, in charge of Strategy, Innovation and New Business at Fleury, recalls that “Group Fleury’s idea generation programme is reaching 10 years of experience in 2017, six of which counting with Exago to help us promote a culture of innovation within the organisation and capture employees’ and suppliers’ ideas for incremental innovations and opportunities to improve our processes. Throughout this period, we have gathered and assessed over 20 thousand ideas with a financial return on investment of over 2 million euros”, she says.

Exago’s Innovation Gurus Awards aim to thank and recognise clients for their focus and commitment to innovation. In addition, they allow us to celebrate the power of our idea management software in bringing people together to innovate and help organisations evolve.

Better looking and more clever than ever, this is our Fox Edition

Exago’s 3.6 idea management software release is a major leap forward from the previous versions. With a brand new homepage look and feel, it offers additional idea review gates and a more comprehensive evaluation process, as well as more effective communication mechanisms.

YOU’LL FIND A FRESH HOMEPAGE DESIGN
Fox’s homepage follows the most up-to-date web design trends to give users an attractive and easy-to-navigate environment. You can expect: new layout of widgets and new navigation mechanisms; more graphical and appealing design configurations; expanded and more appealing highlights’ widget for more effective communication.

NEW IDEA WORKFLOW GATES AND FUNNEL
We know that flexibility is key to our current and future customers, as their idea management processes evolve. So we keep looking for better and more effective ways to manage the idea workflow, which now also includes:

  • New idea evaluation gates (review rating) in custom statuses: ideas can now be attributed to different groups for evaluation, and consideration of different evaluation dimensions (per status), which is particularly useful when specific expertise and knowledge are needed for a more comprehensive idea assessment. In addition, evaluations can be made public or private, according to the initiative’s requirements, providing greater flexibility in the process.
  • New visibility permissions for submitted ideas: to ensure that ideas are aligned and relevant to the challenges, they can now first pass through a validation gate before being published and visible to all.

MORE THOROUGH EVALUATION PROCESS
To enable more complete and comprehensive evaluation, Exago’s Fox edition offers:

  • Sharing of private comments between evaluators: this new feature allows evaluators to share among each other views and insights on ideas under assessment.
  • New, more complete reports and dashboard: with new evaluation gates come updated reports. They now include additional content and new evaluation dimensions that bring greater detail and flexibility to platform data analysis. The dashboard now also refers to custom statuses and managers can follow the number of ideas distributed, allowing for a more complete view of the cycles’ progress.

EXTENDED COMMUNICATION OPTIONS
FOX’s release opens new communication bridges with active and potential participants, namely with:

  • Fresh news page: a brand new news page, with a sleek design and great feel, now keeps all users informed and updated with relevant information related to the shared challenges and the initiative itself.
  • New guest mode function for unregistered users: in response to the needs of open innovation initiatives, we have developed a more intuitive and revealing Guest Mode. Unregistered users can now experience the benefits of being part of these communities and are invited to join in.
  • On-demand custom notifications: in addition to Fox’s default notification engine, you can now send custom notifications to all users or to specific groups.

To see our new idea management software edition live reach us here
You can also get our Fox edition brochure here.