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?

Tips for 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 great ideas?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.