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.

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

 

How to introduce a cost-cutting strategy in your innovation initiative: Step 1

To introduce a cost-cutting strategy in your innovation management initiative, and ensure that your business remains relevant and able to maximise its potential under less favourable circumstances, you should take five major steps.

Get started with STEP 1: Define your strategic cost-cutting goals, which can be incorporated in your innovation agenda

In other words, you should first have a clear view of your company’s strategy and map out good and bad costs for programme intervention, at macro and micro levels, within your innovation agenda. The starting point for any strategic cost-cutting initiative is therefore a clear understanding of a company’s strategy – of where you want to go to and how you believe you can get there.

You will need to determine priority areas and find the right cost-cutting structure, given the strategy you want to pursue in the near future, but also in the mid to long term. Some cuts are fundamental and highly advantageous but more difficult to make, and imply structural change and preparation for that change physically, technically, and even mentally.

 

From strategy to specific cuts 

Having in mind your company’s vision and strategy, you can then set your programme’s specific goals. The cuts you may want to make and the ideas you may implement to meet those goals should position your organisation for growth, and can be done at both macro and micro level.

The nature of macro- and micro-level cuts

 

Innovation management platforms are particularly useful for companies to identify relevant cost-cutting or cost improvements at micro level. These tools give voice to employees from different departments and across borders. They leverage the cumulative business knowledge and allow voices and ideas to surface and reach management in an effortless and efficient way.

Nevertheless, let’s not oversimplify the subject – that’s exactly what you should avoid. Both macro- and micro-level-oriented strategies have value and they often make more sense combined.

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

You can access the full paper here

 

Why leaders with a clear vision connect innovation and strategic cost-cutting

A successful cost-cutting strategy is connected to an organisation’s capacity to evolve, to innovate, and to do so as a whole. Companies can, in fact, keep innovating in ways that do not require high investments in new product research and development, and which can save substantial amounts of time and money.

This process should start internally by capturing the wisdom of each employee, but can also reach external stakeholders, harnessing their potentially powerful insights, creating communities around the company and building communication bridges with clients and suppliers.

By listening to all these voices, and collecting the diverse expertise and know-how of their workforce, organisations can avoid waste, concentrate energies and operate in a more efficient way – thus getting prepared to react and adapt to continuous change.

Losing ‘fat’, as we know, makes us more agile, and agility is key in our times.

In this sense, leaders with a clear vision tend to use cost-cutting to align costs with business strategy. ‘Strategic cost-cutting’ helps companies lower costs, focus on the aspects of the business that are controllable and free up resources to fund transformation and future growth.

Innovation management does not offer magic formulas to do this, nor to mitigate slow growth. Yet sustainable growth, by its essence, cannot exist without ongoing innovation.

In the upcoming posts, we seek to understand what a strategic cost-cutting approach is in more detail, and how it can be important for companies in our economic environment. We also highlight how an innovation culture is fundamental to implement it, and guide you through five major steps to make it work in your organisation.

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

You can access the full paper here