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

 

Make every idea count for your business this year

Are you truly committed to finding the best ideas to grow your business in 2018?

You’re not the only one.

 

Learn how Exago innovation management software can make every idea count for your company with your freedemo@exago.com.

 

 

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

 

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