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

Set the timing right for your innovation challenges

Now that you have identified your key innovation challenges and built them properly, remember to set the timings. Not only does the commitment to a deadline make participants focus, but this also helps you when defining goals with realistic deadlines.

Still, this does not mean one-time, finite initiatives or efforts. As one of our client says, ‘Innovation requires a lot of work, not only to describe ideas well but also to develop them.’ This is true from ideation through to collaborative idea improvement and implementation. For optimal results, you also have to roll-out an appropriate, ongoing communication plan, as described before, establishing medium- to long-term commitment to the project and implementing top ideas as you move forward.

Each cycle end further gives you the time you need to concentrate on implementation, evaluate the initiative, make improvement, tweak ideas and prepare to launch the next cycle of challenges.

THESE ACTIVATION QUESTIONS CAN HELP YOU:
  • How much time do we need to address this challenge?
  • Is a solution reachable within a two to three-month challenge? Or should we break down the challenge further?

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

READ MORE:
Five key dimensions for building your innovation challenges

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

Are you building your innovation challenges right?

Having identified your key innovation challenges – aligned with your company’s higher purpose and strategic goals and made attainable, useful and targeted – it’s time to focus on describing them plainly and completely, to guarantee you’ll get meaningful content:

  • Make your innovation challenges as specific as you can: Break down the challenge’s macro theme into smaller challenges. We’ve learned that the narrower the scope of the challenge, the more imaginative the audience becomes, thus the more meaningful the ideas you’ll secure.
  • Clearly state and justify the need for a solution: Explain why exactly we can all benefit from this challenge.
  • Contextualise the problem and share the findings: Try to understand what has been done within that precise topic in the past, by your company and other competitors. Background checking can recall opportunities, dismiss dead ends and provide key ways to explain the innovation challenge in more detail to participants.
  • Promote ideation with related insights: These last are very useful tools to share the learning process and background details with participants.
  • Make sure also to respect grammar and orthography and send out clear messages:
    • Communications of challenges must use correct syntactic structures and clear sentences.
    • Vocabulary has to be familiar to participants. Business or technical jargon may seem obvious to you. Don’t assume it is to others.
    • Direct questions are a good option, when used in a positive way. This is true even for more driven exploration challenges.

If people do not understand the challenges they face, how can you expect them to participate? Unclear language will also compromise your audience’s future participation.

Here’s a client insight on the subject:

‘It’s very important to add insights and share them in ways we know will mean employees will check these insights.

Usually, our insights include descriptive information provided by the area that manages the subject, including some statistical data. We want to make sure our teams understand the challenges, particularly when these are more complex, and avoid the submission of ideas that we have already implemented or discussed.

Imagine the challenge “How to encourage SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] to set up online stores?”: In this case, we would present statistical information on SMEs in our country, explaining how many there are, what their types are and so on, so that employees understand the target better. Also, we would mention our company’s current offer for these customers, changes and improvements that have already been planned and possible tempting proposals that have been analysed but are not yet in the market (i.e. trying to ward off those apparently obvious ideas).’

Finally, try these activation questions:

  • Am I saying clearly how we can all benefit from this challenge?
  • Is this really one or more challenges? If so, which ones?
  • Are we asking the right questions?
  • What other approaches were attempted in the past?
  • Are we providing enough insights to power ideation?

 

READ MORE:
Set the timing right for your innovation challenges

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

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

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.

How to really use your organisation’s collective intelligence

Studies show a direct, consistent correlation between the level of engagement of a company’s workforce and business growth. Fight for differentiation also remains on top of CEO’s agendas. But how can each organisation’s collective intelligence be harnessed and focused to continuously find new ideas and deliver sustainable results?

Invited to participate in KLIC – Knowledge Leadership in Innovation and Creativity conference at Pakistan, Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’co-founder, tells us more on the subject.