Meet the Exago Innovation Guru prize-winners

The challenge was set, the votes counted and the champions announced. And now, Exago has delivered the prizes to the Innovation Guru Award winners of 2017. We were proud to present the trophies to Via Varejo, Ageas and CTT, the clients who especially stood out for their solid focus and resilience to innovate over the past year.

After announcing the winners of the second edition of the Exago Innovation Guru Awards, the Exago team delivered the trophies to the three winning teams:

Welcomed by the Inov+ team, the name the company has given to its Exago innovation platform, Exago presented the Innovation Farmer trophy to the Portuguese postal service CTT for continuously sowing the seeds of its innovation programme. In keeping with this commitment, Exago will plant and care for 50 trees in the company’s name for five years, through the Plant a Tree project.

Insurance group Ageas received the Innovation Hunter trophy in recognition of its team’s performance through Ding, the successful innovation programme they have developed using the Exago idea management software. In recognition of its creative and highly original approaches to participation and innovation, the Ding hunters now have a new prize in their sights, with an Escape Game for their innovation team.

Along with the Innovation Bookkeeper trophy, the Brazilian retailer Via Varejo received another prize to complement its informed, balanced approach to innovation: the chance to pick one of three Innovation Services offered by Exago, to further bolster the already successful results of its innovation programme.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Step 5: Be resilient to create a cost-conscious culture in your innovation agenda

If you are introducing cost-cutting in your innovation agenda, your ultimate drive is to create a cost culture that sustains itself over time and is not forgotten three months after being announced by the leadership.

Your final goal is that your workforce feels that the organisation’s investments are personal investments, which can benefit all.

Still, organisations are living creatures in changing contexts. So, strategic cost-reduction priorities should be regularly reviewed and updated in the same way as business opportunities are.

And so we find ourselves where we started: needing to map out intervention areas at micro and macro level, both good and bad costs, and clearly define and (re)align everyone with your cost strategy over time. Ensure that you have the best methods in place to address each area in an efficient way, using top-down yet privileging bottom-up approaches in your innovation agenda.

For bottom-up approaches, also review the communication plan at hand to help your employees understand the tweaks and turns. Let them have an active role in the process of building the company’s future together.

It will take time and some effort, since resistance is normal under less favourable circumstances. It will take people’s commitment.

Yet, with strong leadership, a clear and well-defined strategic cost-cutting programme and the awareness of shared responsibilities, an organisation can reinvent itself and learn how to do so continuously, as models are challenged and new opportunities arise.

This continuous engagement of your workforce will also make your employees more cost-conscious, imposing a more effective cost and spending culture.

 

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

Access the Five-step Guide to make cost-cutting work within your innovation initiative here

And the Exago 2017 Innovation Gurus are…

Whether it is for their considered, value-oriented innovation approach, for the creative ways found to bring everyone aboard their innovation challenge, or for their sustained corporate culture of innovation, we are proud to announce the champions of the second edition of the Exago Innovation Guru Awards.

 

Our 2017 Innovation Guru winners who truly stood out for their performances in the past year are:

The Innovation Bookkeeper: Via Varejo

Few companies weigh up the deciding factors of every idea as carefully as Brazilian retail leader Via Varejo – with an informed, balanced approach to innovation, an eye for detail and a clear concern for the numbers.

With an impressive 2,000 ideas shared in just two months, mostly in best practices and finding the right product for the customer, the Via Varejo team is results-focused, invites participants to understand their ideas from different angles, seeks to balance the tangible and intangible benefits, and looks at the cost advantage of each and every suggestion.

The Innovation Hunter: Ageas

Leading international insurance group Ageas picks up our Innovation Hunter prize for its creative and highly original approaches to encouraging participation and innovation within the company.

From staging the kidnappings of the CEOs with bright ideas as the currency, to offering cakes in return for ideas at a pre-launch phase, Ageas is forever on the hunt for a stronger and more engaging innovation programme: in the 13 challenges launched in the first 9 months, the company engaged almost all business units in the innovation process, with a 42% participation rate and gathering 397 ideas with solid implementation potential.

The Innovation Farmer: CTT

With almost half of Exago platform visitors already participating in the platform throughout 2017, close to 1.5 ideas per active user and thousands of comments shared, the Portuguese national postal service CTT has been sowing the seeds of its innovation programme, strengthened with the use of the Exago innovation software since early 2016.

Along with a dedicated Innovation Day, effective communication initiatives and a solid incentives package comprising excellent prizes, including gadgets, vouchers, festival tickets and experiences, CTT also encourages a global culture of innovation by tying in special events and workshops with participation on the Exago platform.

Congratulations to all Innovation Guru Award winners and to all those who inspire our work at Exago every day!

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.

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