History shows us that some of the most advanced inventions and Innovation came about in periods of economic crisis. We are in a world of turmoil and need to think about how we are responding to change.
Most companies are realising that Innovation is key to future survival, but how do they make sure that they get the best ideas?
It used to be that great ideas were the preserve of R&D or developed in strategy sessions by senior management. These days with the development of technology, we have many more Innovation resources at hand in the form of our employees.
Lots of companies are recognising this and putting mechanisms in place to solicit ideas from employees. They are running electronic suggestion boxes on their Intranets, putting Innovation into people’s KPI’s, employing Innovation managers and running campaigns which reward the best ideas.
But these Innovation activities are still nascent. Innovation needs to become integral to how organisations function in the future. While strategy still plays an important role in Innovation, we need to foster a culture of operational innovation. How do we make Innovation part of everything we do?
Every employee brings Innovation opportunity to the work place. A manager who is also a mum could recognise another use for your products in the baby care market. The techie whose parents still live in the township could identify a better route to serving this market. A rep who is on the road could identify a mobile app that saves time for motorists. Whatever it is, you want to be able to capture these ideas.
But beyond capturing these ideas, you also want to improve on the quality of the idea. After all, we all know that ideas are just ideas; Innovation has only occurred when they are implemented and realise value.
The aim, therefore, is to mature the most viable ideas and this is where most Innovation activities and technologies fall short of the mark. Different people across the organisation bring different perspectives, experiences and knowledge which will enhance the value of the idea.
We need better mechanisms for identifying and improving the best ideas and the current Innovation-committee-who-meet-once-a-month, system is inadequate and time consuming. Once again we turn to our employees to improve the system. We can get them to vote, collaborate and improve on the ideas.
This all sounds time consuming and resource intensive, which is why most organisations don’t do it. Enter the modern interactive Intranet. Social media, or social business (as we prefer to call it) and gamification are making this challenge disappear.
“Game mechanics are rule based systems that facilitate and encourage a user to explore and learn the properties of their possibility space through the use of feedback mechanisms.”1
Social business tools include “likes”, “comments” and “share” etc. They are designed to foster employee interaction and engagement.
These tools make the process of employee collaboration easier and most importantly enjoyable.
Some of the latest Innovation technologies are using crude game mechanics such as “liking”, but the most sophisticated systems are using crowd sourcing and other reward mechanisms to get employees to work together to improve and build ideas. We see idea trading, recognition of contributions and other mechanisms like leader boards and ranking for employees to build their personal brands within the organisation. This not only rewards the idea, but also engages employees and makes the process of Innovation enjoyable.
As these technologies become ubiquitous in the organisation and all employees start having access to the system, we will start to see more and more great contributions.
So where is your next big idea going to come from? Could it be from the edge of the organisation and nurtured by people from everywhere?
1 “Theory of Fun for Game Design” Raph Koster
About Digital Bridges
Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the innovation and technology. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.
Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the enterprise environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like SharePoint 2010, social media and gamification and is focussed on this. We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.
We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country. We offer Innovation services to grow organisations and equip them for change. This includes Innovation strategies, culture interventions, measurement tools and campaign development to release the power of Innovation.
Digital Bridges relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, innovation, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.
Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.
To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on firstname.lastname@example.org.