A recent article from the Washington Post titled, “How better collaboration can boost innovation and success in the new normal”, highlighted the speed at which businesses have to innovate and create new offerings in order to maintain their market position. It also highlighted the importance of embedding a culture of innovation in your organization so that it’s not just one person’s job, rather everyone in the company is empowered to be creative and come up with innovative solutions.
The article lays out four steps leaders can take: democratize innovation, put ideas first, tear down boundaries, and modernize your technology. At the Innovation Lab, this article resonated with us because these steps align directly with how we carry out our Innovation Services with businesses.
In our four-step process, we work with the leadership team at a business to help frame the opportunity. From there, we encourage companies to include employees at all levels to help create actionable solutions. When HODGE started working with the Innovation Lab, they wanted to think about innovation as everyone’s responsibility, and needed a framework to help do that. Our proven IDEAdash and IDEAthon processes helped them think about how to include employees at all levels of the company.
PUTTING IDEAS FIRST
To prevent a ‘groupthink’ mentality during our Innovation Sessions, we break larger groups into smaller breakout groups to generate tons of ideas. We use post-it notes and encourage everyone to just start writing down their ideas, no matter how outlandish they may seem. Sometimes the best results come from the post-it note that seemed the most outside the lines. This type of structure encourages EVERYONE to participate and have an active voice.
The National Mississippi River Museum, which was the focus of one of our community IDEAthons, said the result of having so many unique voices at the table gave them countless ideas that they would not have come up with on their own.
TEAR DOWN BOUNDARIES
This concept relates to creating more accessible information channels and ensuring teams are open to input from other levels of the organization. This means making a process for sharing ideas across your organization and communicating how they are implemented. Sharing success stories builds engagement in the innovation process. We can help your team set the stage for what to expect from a process like this and how to be ready to accept and implement new concepts or processes that might be a result of the Innovation Session.
MODERNIZE YOUR TECHNOLOGY
Having the right technology and platforms to encourage collaboration is key to success, especially as the pandemic created disruptions in what the workplace looks like. At the Innovation Lab, we began offering our Innovation Services virtually in 2020 and have continued in 2021. This allowed us to reach more organizations and enable clients to engage a wider range of participants in the Innovation Sessions. Just recently, we wrapped up an Innovation Session focused on product development processes with GOLFTEC. With team members located throughout the United States and Canada, we were able to facilitate virtual Innovation Sessions designed to streamline product development.