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

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

First, ask what your innovation purpose is

Nike’s goal is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world’. Starbuck’s motto is ‘to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time’. What is your company’s mission? And how does your initiative take part in carrying it out?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to purpose. When launching your innovation initiative, you must first clearly identify what is your higher strategic purpose – the one that will bind together your leadership, management and employees.

From our experience, getting key players inside your organisation aligned is hard, requiring diplomatic and pragmatic skills. When launching your innovation effort, you must also find a way to communicate that the initiative is bigger than just a simple project with a set of processes and tools. Individual employees need a meaningful purpose to motivate them to dedicate their free time to activities that are not part of their official job description.

You thus need to follow up on, and build on, your organisation’s mission. Define a purpose for your innovation effort and identify ‘the jobs-to-be-done’ through innovation. Show your team that this is an opportunity to shape the company’s future, to out-differentiate the competition.

Whether you seek to apply innovation management to meeting very explicit business challenges or to creating a company-wide culture and capabilities, ask yourself, ‘What do we want to change?’ Understanding your ambitions helps you define a migration path, set your expectations, get the challenges right and allocate resources more rationally.

Your challenges thus have to be aligned with your company’s higher purpose and the strategic objectives you set. You should also define clearly what you want to accomplish and why, as well as the specific needs your chosen challenges address.

Try these ativation questions:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What do we want to change in our organisation?
  • What are our organisation’s specific needs that are addressed by this challenge, and how can people relate to them? (Focus on the problem, on defining its scope instead of jumping to a solution.)
  • What is the desired outcome? (Understand the perspectives of customers, stakeholders and other beneficiaries. This should be addressed qualitatively and quantitatively whenever possible.)
  • How does this connect with our company’s mission? And with more strategic goals?

We will next see the importance of picking useful and feasible fights, when launching your innovation challenges.

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 pick useful and feasible ‘fights’ for innovation challenges

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

Finally, your 7th innovation journey must-have

Last but not least, when launching your innovation management effort, remember to find a way to communicate why the initiative is bigger than just a simple project with a set of processes and tools. A strategic intent that shows the outcomes of the effort will not only benefit the company, but your people and the world we live in.

Show your teams that this is the opportunity to define the company’s future, to out-differentiate our competition and, more importantly, to write history together.

In short, make sure you find what makes you all jump out of bed in the morning. It´s the ultimate must-have to guarantee, over time, a seat in the Innovation Journey.

Ready to board? Check your must-haves:
Are you ready for your innovation journey?

TIP: For those who know the innovation clock is ticking

Photo: Jarmoluk

Now that the year comes to an end, we have good news and bad news. Let’s start with the bad news: Arthur D. Little’s Innovation Excellence Survey found a growing number of companies realise that they have failed to make innovation everyone’s business. And this is costing them dearly.

As they lag behind their competitors, they discover that industry leaders are companies that make a real effort to engage everyone, every single day. Those companies are reaping significant rewards such as committed and engaged employees producing great ideas from every corner of the organisation.

Now the good news, for the years to come: Boston Consulting Group’s Innovation Survey shows that many companies consider innovation management a key weapon in their efforts to seize the benefits of a tentatively emerging economic recovery.

The report also postulates that a new world order in innovation is taking hold. One in which rapidly developing economies, led by China, India, and Brazil, will increasingly assume more prominent positions, while the United States and other mature economies will continue to play major roles but gradually become less dominant. And the movement is accelerating.

Living up to the innovation hype
There are great expectations for innovation to drive corporate success. However, in many cases, innovation has not been living up to its own hype. It often fails to deliver expected returns, leaving companies wandering in the desert rather than arriving at the Promised Land.

Does this mean we should avoid innovation in the year ahead? Absolutely not.

What it means is that companies need to find their own processes and methods. They need to set aside appropriate resources and recruit the necessary sponsorship from leaders. In other words, companies must understand and map their own Path of Innovation to their Promised Land of Opportunity.

So, for 2015, remember Andy Warhol’s words:
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself”.

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

FROM THE START: Innovation looks easy – it’s not