One of the keys to success for any organization is to stay
relevant and on top of (or ahead of) the trends. Organizations that remain
complacent and stop ideating are often those that shut their doors just a few
years later. We can all name some big companies that met their demise due to a
lack of innovation; Kodak, Nokia, Xerox, Blockbuster, Circuit City, etc. The
list goes on.
Today’s businesses are under more pressure than ever before to
come up with new products and services that customers will want and need. And,
with customers being smarter than ever, and being able to research pretty much
anything at any time due to the accessibility of the Internet of Things (IoT),
companies need to develop and foster a culture that enables and encourages
ideation and innovation.
On top of the benefits that ideation and innovation bring to your
organization, it also aids in employee morale. Your employees need a reason to
believe, and when you let them be part of the innovation process for the
organization, your team members will be inspired, regardless of their role
within the company.
So how do you pull ideas from all of those employees in your firm?
Successful Brainstorming and Ideation
Many organizations overlook entirely their
most productive resource for breakthrough thinking and innovative new ideas.
Study after study has shown that employees are the absolute best source of new ideas
for the companies that they work for. In fact, ideation is often a natural part
of their day, so why not look for creative opportunities to capitalize on those
- Make time for your employees to
innovate. This may sound like it is easier said than
done, but it is possible to set aside time for your employees to think outside
the box and come up with new ideas. 3M, for example, allows employees to spend
up to 15% of their work time to pursue their own ideas for product innovation.
- Help your employees escape to
innovate. While the 3M idea might sound like a great
one, how do you really “break away” from your work, especially 15% of the
workday or work week? This is definitely easier said than done, especially for
employees who put in far more hours than the norm (and that’s a topic for
another day). But what can truly be effective is helping your employees get out
of the office, for a day of ideation. No laptops. No mobile devices. Just
brains, and maybe a whiteboard or two.
- Set up an ideation station. As we mentioned before, ideas can come from everyone.
And, there are more ways to improve your business than simply coming up with a
new product idea (though, that is a big one). An idea from your cleaning crew
on some small steps your employees can take at the end of the day to make the
cleaning process more effective can ultimately save your business hundreds, if
not thousands, of dollars in cleaning costs. An idea from your top engineer on
the next thingamajig could yield hundreds of thousands of dollars. Whether the
savings or gain is big or small, find a way to take suggestions from anyone and
everyone. Some companies actually have true ideation stations or programs at
their offices. This could be a kiosk where someone can enter an idea on a company
iPad during their lunch hour, or could be a monitored email box that employees
can send ideas to. The key is to make sure employees know how to access
whatever option it is, and that ideas are actually monitored and recorded. Of
course, then, some of those ideas need to get rolled out.
- Keep at it. Once you create this environment of ideation, you need
to make sure you don’t stop. Make sure you keep talking about it at employee
meetings, via employee newsletters, on your intranet site, and even your
company blog. Sometimes your employees need to be reminded.
When they start to see that their leadership
team is actually doing something with their ideas, and the employees know their
ideas count, trust us, the ideas will start to really roll in.