How to Turn Employees into Innovators

Without a doubt, my least popular article of all time was on the topic of innovation. So why would I dare mention that topic again?

Because it’s crucial to our success!

And by “our,” I do mean all of us. Whether you’re a small business like mine or a huge, global corporation, innovation is what keeps us ahead of the competition. I know that in three short years, my business has evolved substantially in order to meet ever-changing needs. Large, global companies must constantly innovate to keep up with the changing demands of customers.

So, if we’re in a department like Human Resources, how do we innovate? The same way everyone else does!

Generate ideas and test ideas until you either conclude it’s great, or it has no value.

If you need a bit of help getting started, there are several resources on the internet. I was reviewing a tool called KickBox this morning which was created by Adobe. It’s very impressive. The bonus news to report is that the site claims that the toolkit will be made Open Source in February. This means you can have it for free.

Briefly, here’s how it works at Adobe.

  • Employees are given a red box.
  • Inside the red box, is a 6 step process to guide innovation, a chocolate bar (for sugar motivation), a Starbucks card (for caffeine motivation) and a pre-paid card for $1000 so employees can test their idea.
  • If they make it through all 6 steps, they will be in possession of valuable information about a tested concept that they can then pitch to an executive to try get funding for the next phase.

So where will most companies fail in this initiative?

  1. They won’t carve out time for the initial meeting to happen (too busy with the day-to-day).
  2. They’ll add management approvals to the process (Adobe has none).
  3. They won’t trust their people to spend the pre-paid card on project-related items. (Remember that Google recommends that you give your people enough freedom to make you slightly uncomfortable.)
  4. They’ll add something else to the process to layer the creative employee in red tape, making it painful to participate. (One company I worked for made employees fill out so much paperwork just to log an idea that no employee would do it.)

So, go ahead and find your free 2017 toolkit and head down the path to innovation. I plan to watch the site for the February release.

Until next time,

Tracey.

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