In the past, when most organisations could rely on a few innovations a year, innovation was considered to be only the role of a Research & Development department. Now, when your organisation is more complex, employees have more ideas, and the external environment is changing so fast, innovation is everybody’s responsibility.
This is not a new idea, but it’s more popular now than ever before. Broadly, it’s called “Employee Driven Innovation”, and is adopted by organisations in different ways, such as Kaizen (the Japanese process of continuous improvement), employee suggestion programs, and innovation communities. Even if your organisation doesn’t have one of these formal programs, you can foster innovation within your team.
Innovation isn’t always about massive changes, like iPhones, Google, or driverless cars. Regardless of your team’s role, there are always opportunities for improvement, and your team members are often best placed to suggest these improvements. They could be as simple as removing an unnecessary step from a process, simplifying a form, changing a customer interaction, tapping into social networks, using a new software tool, or saving five minutes on a repetitive task. That’s innovation, and it doesn’t require a formal program or an R&D department.
By encouraging innovation, you not only improve your workplace, you also increase employee engagement. In an environment where employees have more choices, greater flexibility, and less loyalty, it’s increasingly difficult to get, motivate and keep the best people. If you can give those people the chance to apply their skills and talents to innovation, you can keep them motivated and engaged. It blends innovation and employee engagement in a way that’s attractive to your brightest team members. These are the people who believe they can make a difference, and might already be making a difference outside work. Now you give them the chance to also do it at work.
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