Do You Know How To Make Your Teams Innovate?
Most organizations realize that in today’s competitive world simply plodding on and delivering more of the same will only get you so far. If you keep on producing the same products and services, year after year with minimal development, sooner rather than later, a new disruptive player will enter the market and eat your lunch. There’s no doubt that to get ahead and stay ahead your organization needs to build innovative new products and services – and to do this you need to build innovative teams. Just look at Apple, Google, Samsung and Proctor and Gamble, some of the most innovative and successful organizations in the world. But how do the most innovative companies create innovative teams?
Below we have set out some techniques that you can use to encourage innovation in your own teams.
Annual Innovation Competition.
Many organizations hold annual innovation competitions where employees are invited to put forward innovative ideas and suggestions to improve the business. One of the most notable of these is the annual innovation competition by Tata Group, called Innovista What stands out about this competition is that not only are the most successful innovative ideas recognized but there is also an award for the least successful but ambitious innovations, which shows that it is OK to fail.
The idea of 20% time was originated at Google where they allowed their engineers to have 20% of their time to work on research and development and new and creative projects that could benefit the business in some way. 3M have a similar innovation programme known as 15% time, where employees are allocated 15% of their working time to innovate. 15%, 20% time (or whichever per cent time you choose), is a tried and tested way to foster innovation in your business.
This concept has been popularized by Yahoo, who have their own Hack Day, which is an organizational conference which many of their engineers attend, enabling them to collaborate with lots of other engineers with the aim of coming up with a great idea for the business in just one or perhaps a few days. This innovation day concept started in the technological world but this is equally applicable to many business sectors and now many other companies in other industries operate their own versions of a hack day where employees come together to collaborate, incubate and harness ideas and ultimately to innovate.
General Electric originated the idea of imagination breakthroughs where their managers were tasked with coming up with three radical business proposals a year that could take GE into a new business area. This can easily be replicated in your organization in that you can ‘goal’ your managers and staff to come up with innovative ideas each year.
As you can see, there are many ways you can encourage innovation, but what is also important is that you have a mechanism for harnessing these ideas and turning them into reality. Both GE and TATA set up innovation councils to select the best ideas and assign budgets and oversee the implementation of the new idea – and ideally you would adopt a similar approach in order to harness and channel innovation.
Image Credit: CC by Seth1492