How innovation can help you conquer the new generations

A Gallup report shows that US companies lose $350 billion in revenue every year due to employees’ disengagement. In fact, 70 per cent of your employees are probably disengaged. Yet full participation is an emotional commitment that cannot be forced.

With the Millennials and Generation Z joining the workplace, the challenge rises: no longer can we believe that it is enough for a company to provide the work, and that an employee’s motivation will come naturally.

What is more, data shows that employees want to be more innovative at work and want to take more responsibility. This tells us that fostering creative environments and innovation initiatives will also nurture motivation, engagement and, therefore, productivity.

Three perspectives on the value of making companies more inclusive and collaborative

Innovation can be defined as the development of customer value through solutions that meet new, undefined, or existing market needs in unique ways. Solutions may include new or more effective products, processes, services,  technologies, or ideas that are more readily available to markets, governments and society.

The development of a corporate culture where innovation is incentivised and becomes the way of doing business can bring companies several advantages, according to different points of view:

  • From an organisational perspective, managers encourage innovation because of the value it can capture. Innovative employees increase productivity by creating and executing new processes, which in turn may strengthen competitive advantages and provide meaningful differentiation. Innovative organisations are inherently more adaptable to the external environment; this allows them to react faster and more effectively to avoid risk and capture opportunities.
  • From a managerial perspective, innovative employees tend naturally to be more motivated and involved in the organisation. Empowering employees to innovate and improve their work processes provides a sense of autonomy that boosts job satisfaction.
  • From a broader perspective, empowering employees to engage in broader organisation-wide innovation creates a strong sense of teamwork and community and ensures that employees are actively aware of and invest in organisational objectives and strategy.

In this sense, managers who promote an innovative environment can see value through increased employee motivation, creativity, and autonomy; stronger teams; and strategic recommendations from the bottom up.

READ MORE:
How to create a culture of collaborative innovation in younger generations

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

How to pick useful and feasible ‘fights’ for innovation challenges

Here’s a simple but essential tip when establishing your innovation challenges: pick ‘fights’ that are useful and bring attainable value to your organisation. This means you need to guarantee your programme is relevant both to your people and company, namely:

• Make sure challenges have business relevance: Don’t solve problems you don’t have. Key business challenges make the most relevant innovation challenges.

• Also, remember to have problem sponsors: International idea management programmes have triumphed by negotiating innovation challenges with particular business unit leaders. Take leaders’ challenges and label them innovation challenges. This way, you’ll have your own champions. Understand, as well, what your champions’ motives are for solving the problem, since this builds you a stronger base from which to negotiate.

• Engage fully your C-level and innovation team: Prioritise those challenges that are useful to your C-level and make sure these leaders approve and support your initiatives. Leadership’s active involvement is key for programme success. Also, make sure that your innovation team is truly dedicated, embracing the tasks at hand.

• Identify key problems that need solving and can be solved: Look for discrete barriers to progress or opportunities within your innovation portfolio of projects. These can be articulated in a way that others, even those from diverse areas of expertise, have a chance to make important contributions to your progress. Also, be sure that your problems can be realistically solved. You need to raise the stakes, but you can’t afford to misuse resources.

HERE’S WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY ON THE SUBJECT:

‘Sponsorship’s impact is enormous, and we can clearly see this in the number of average market users. In years with higher sponsorship from the CEO and space in internal communication, as well as more attractive prizes, we have many more active users.

‘A staff of committed people must be present in the back-office. No leader can do things alone.’

‘The feasibility of an idea is mostly a function of one’s capability of elaborating, processing and developing it. Newborn ideas are neither good nor bad. They are just ideas (usually very raw). As a matter of fact, the final implementation is always very different from the original idea. Instead, good problem setting is very relevant.’

 

FINALLY, TRY THESE ACTIVATION QUESTIONS:
  • How relevant is this problem? How urgent?
  • Whose problem is this?
  • Who can sponsor and promote it?
  • Can this problem be solved?

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

READ MORE:
How to mobilise the right audiences for innovation challenges

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

Fighting for your audience? Take on the right incentives

Your customers will always be glad to share with you insights on how to improve your product. They’re probably doing it now in some way, though irregularly and outside any structured innovation management framework.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking for specific expertise or creativity focuses, you can’t expect the answers to land on your doorstep. You need to give people some kind of incentive to think ideas through, getting them to share their best contributions. ‘Why should I participate in this programme, anyway?’ is the question potential participants will certainly ask.

Which incentives should I use?
You need to opt for both self-promotional – leaderboards, reputation enhancements and community recognition events – and material incentives – money, products and experiences. This is particularly relevant if you’re running a competition or targeting the general public or consumers.

Make sure that the company you pick to help you with initiatives takes this route, providing a detailed overall plan of programme incentives and articulating which activities should be promoted and how this happens. The template model needs to accelerate decisionmaking. These elements must create clear links between incentives and rewards, aligned with programme objectives and organisational brand values.

In addition, the chosen online platform should implement a horizontal incentive scheme that covers each stage of the open innovation process. It must also integrate gamification techniques and game elements such as points, badges, leaderboards and digital currency rewards (which participants can exchange for material prizes) for each valuable interaction with your platform.

This model allows programme managers to promote the desired behaviours of targeted stakeholders or communities. Finally, you need to be able to manage your programme easily for brand awareness, quality of proposals and quantity of interactions.

(to be continued)

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s co-founder/ pdc@exago.com

FROM THE START:
Open innovation and the fight for your audience

Decisions, decisions…

Be it through team idea contests or widespread programmes, we are enthusiasts of innovation’s number one rule: Give your teams a voice. Gather suggestions and insights and build on that knowledge together, as innovation becomes simply your way to do business.

One way or another, true employee engagement is more complicated than it seems, and it needs so much more than a carrot and stick philosophy. Millennial engagement? That raises the stakes even further. So, why not make participation more appealing, with fun challenges?

These days, we’re testing it for you!

The idea management challenge. How do they do it?

The Brazilian company Fleury – a leading provider of clinical analyses in Latin America – has currently more than 10,000 employees. All can participate in Fleury’s innovation efforts. In 2007, the company initiated a programme to encourage suggestions for how to improve its operations, allowing all employees to submit ideas on paper, which were then evaluated by an innovation committee. A software platform helped, in general, to collect ideas, supporting the programme.

But, the significant amount of work involved in evaluating these ideas led Fleury to consider an alternative. To optimise the process, in 2011, the Fleury group next adopted the Central de Ideias (Idea Market). Created by Exago, this innovation management solution is a software platform where all stakeholders can make their contributions – not only collecting and harnessing everyone’s ideas but also evaluating them.

Within a single year, the results overtook even the most ambitious targets:

  • Ideas submitted – escalating from 1,809, in 2011, to 7,269, in 2012, when the new model was implemented (an increase of more than 400%)
  • Ideas approved – more than doubling, from 443 to 946
  • Ideas implemented – increasing from 225 to 300
  • Stakeholders involved – growing from 712 to 3,309 people (and 15 months after implementing and disseminating Exago’s model, more than 70% of Fleury’s staff had actively joined in).

Fleury’s innovations have generated millions of reais in value. They’ve reduced operating costs and introduced more efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly processes. So far this year, almost 8,000 participants are still interconnected and actively participating, and 600 ideas have come to life. People have become the centre of Fleury’s culture of innovation.

In this way, the company has managed to tackle the three central challenges identified above: to create high levels of mobilisation and engagement, to be extremely efficient in the process of idea evaluation and to sustain high levels of participation over time (i.e. avoiding creating an initial peak followed by a drastic fall in participation).

At Exago, we’ve worked with extraordinary clients, such as Fleury, and others from pharmaceutical, banking, utilities and telecommunications industries – across four continents – to help them mobilise targeted communities to solve key business problems by learning from them and with them. What do we then believe to be the 3 key success factors of innovation management? We’ll see that next.

READ MORE:
The first of 3 key success factors of innovation management

FROM THE START:
Can you master the 3 key success factors of innovation management?

Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder
pcc@exago.com