Innovation, if it’s not lost in the shuffle, needs a little more help to remain visible. Some companies have chosen to invest resources in ideation programs, formal brainstorming meetings, and even crowd-sourcing ideas, but the payback from these programs is often less than many companies had originally hoped.
A better approach is to allow employees to propose adding adjacent products, product enhancements, strategic solutions, or even new productivity improvements. Better still, if you can make this an informal process accessible by everyone, you’ll be well on your way to building a culture of creativity and innovation.
Making time for ideas
So is it really worth going through hundreds of proposals to find the 5% to 10% that contain good ideas? My answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why:
- People love to share their knowledge and their experience. All they ask is to be recognized for gaining the knowledge and for being willing to share it.
- Every proposal selected and implemented tangibly aids in building a culture of problem-solving and innovation.
- Calling for open innovation allows the company to highlight people whose proposals have been chosen and can even support creating a peer mentor network.
- The more tacit knowledge employees share about how to write the best proposal, the better the proposals will get (and all without adding any additional process controls).
The beauty of creating a culture of innovation is that it builds on itself. At first, it’s likely only a brave few will submit proposals. But as other employees see proposals being chosen and implemented, their wheels will begin turning. They’ll see a whole new world of possibility. And your company, product, and—ultimately—your customer will be all the better for it.
An invitation for ideation
Innovation to ideation is generally a standalone process, separate from the work the company is normally planning to do. Additionally, innovation proposals are usually reviewed by a select group of people rather than by leaders and their staff in the business units themselves.
As a former portfolio manager, I’ve always said that I’d take a project proposal from anyone with a good idea. My assumption has always been that if I designed the input form correctly, I’d instantly know by the information (or lack thereof) included on the form whether the idea was ready for serious consideration.
The key to a successful innovation process is implementing a simple, nimble, automated workflow, one that can simplify and keep all the data in one system. I highly recommend a tool like Tempus Resource’s project/proposal intake workflow capability, where anyone can propose an idea through templated forms without needing a paid license.
Could employees waste time thinking of something to propose? Not really, if you want to build a culture of creativity. Could an employee propose something outlandish? Possibly, but what’s outlandish today is accepted tomorrow.
Software that supports growth and innovation
Today, software systems are increasingly designed to support an organization through its evolutionary process, from starting as a beginner to becoming a proficient expert. After all, every company is unique. And based on ten years of experience with the Gartner PPM maturity model, I can also tell you that every company has things it does uncommonly well and things it’s poor at.
The goal should be that a company at a Level 1 resource management maturity doesn’t have to wait until they get to Level 3 or Level 4 to start an innovation process. With Tempus Resource, for example, all the features of the product are available at any time. By encouraging open innovation at any level of resource management maturity, companies never have to wait to start building a culture of problem-solving and creativity.