Everything is changing, all of the time. Large players want to disrupt their own markets before fresh-faced start-ups do. And to attract and retain key talent companies need to be more agile, innovative and inclusive – giving their people both a voice and the chance to really make a difference.
Lots of our clients are talking to us about how they can shift their cultures to become more entrepreneurial and unleash innovation from within. It’s obviously a hot topic, so here are our musings on the organisational innovation revolution!
So, first of all who gets innovation right?
Ford are really nailing it. A few years ago, they were lagging behind. Other major automakers were being granted nearly twice as many patents, every year. Then, in 2016 Ford were granted more patents than any other automaker, including:
- a flying drone that acts as a lookout for self-driving cars
- a filter that purifies air conditioner condensation into drinkable water
- an electric wheelchair that loads itself into the car.
Ford did this by turning all their people into inventors by empowering them through a bottom-up culture of innovation. Unlocking the power of your people really is how you stay ahead of the competition…
Anyone can have a great idea – do you know…
who invented the Frappuccino?
A Starbucks employee in Southern California trying to beat the heat without giving up the caffeine boost.
who invented Amazon Prime?
It was created as the result of a staff suggestion. Prime customers typically increase spend by 150% after joining.
What’s holding your people back?
The best place to start anything is to talk to your people. Find out what’s holding them back and build your plan from there. Here are some common barriers to innovation we’ve found…
If you don’t have innovation in your job title, your short-term challenges, a long to do list and diary full of meetings comes first.
Having an entrepreneurial mindset and set of associated behaviours goes against the ingrained drive to efficiency and cost-cutting that many of our performances have been judged against for years.
All the hierarchy and red tape suffocates great ideas – so what’s the point?
Fear of failure is also an interesting one. Most of us see failure as some sort of personal downfall that we’ll be negatively judged against, dreading the day it happens when our incompetency gets found out!!! Innovators and scientists don’t. They see failure as a natural part of experimentation. If something doesn’t work, they don’t take it personally, they simply cross it off their list and move on to something else that might be ‘it’.
We know that culture change happens if organisations adopt a sustained, inclusive and integrated approach over time. Here’s a bit of a to do list of things for you to consider:
- Reposition innovation through a rally cry campaign: innovation is mission critical and everyone’s responsibility.
- Create a movement – deliver a powerful call to action that sparks energy and excitement, giving everyone a chance to shape the future.
- #Hastags are great to encourage spontaneous contributions, and to monitor how much energy your call to action has generated.
- Your leaders – they need to give people permission to experiment, take calculated risks and fail. Ask them to role-model these desired behaviours by sharing their personal stories, encourage them to be open and vulnerable.
- We know people want more opportunity to be creative at work – innovation is a great way to stretch that muscle and keep your people feeling invigorated and listened to. Win, win.
- Make innovation spotting a new thing – reward, recognise and shout loudly about innovation when it happens, make it an important factor considered in career progression.
- Give your people a voice – launch a crowd-sourcing platform. Set open challenges for short timeframes on specific topics. Shout loudly about these to drive traffic and interest.
- Go big with Dragon’s Den style challenges – a great way to make people’s competitive nature work for you. Capturing and telling the stories behind the challenges drives high levels of engagement – people love the idea of following teams as they compete to achieve the impossible.
- Tooling up – provide your people with everyday toolkits and invite them to workshops to teach them ‘the how’ of innovation. Offering a train the trainer approach with local innovation ambassadors can be a game changing investment.
- Creating space – creative agencies, like Home, have funky open spaces for a reason. Our physical environment affects the way we feel, think and act at work. If your budget will stretch, revamping physical environments is a great signal to your people that you want them to think and act differently.
Our one key bit of advice
As innovation is the topic, your comms approach needs to be 100% fresh and different to anything that your people have seen before…