Over the last few articles, we’ve discussed the absolute fundamental principle behind innovation — it comes from your employees. Yes, it can come from other places, such as stakeholders and investors as stated by the Conscious Capitalism book by Mackey and Sisodia. It also can come from ‘crowd innovation’. Both of these utilize people external to your organization.
Employees see opportunities first hand every day. The question then becomes how do you get innovative ideas from them?
We started a laundry list of things to do for employees in “Innovation - Where to Start (Part 1)”. This leads to the question — which came first the chicken or the egg? What do you put into place first?
These where-to-start innovation articles are for those of you with a limited budget and limited resources. Doing all this at once is just not possible.
The information I’m sharing is for the troublemakers who are taking a stand to make things better, regardless of how outside of your job description it is. You need to collect data, document value, and propose to executives why they should listen to you. I was in that situation for many years and now I’m passing my experience onto you.
Mark Murphy contributed an article to Forbes, “Three Tools To Inspire Innovation From Your Employees.” His ideas range from leadership involvement to designating autonomy time. His last idea, “...make time for sharing these observations at regular staff meetings.” Again, we’re at the chicken and egg scenario. Do you train leadership to ask for innovations, which essentially would require management approval (and possibly a budget for leadership training), or do you start even simpler (and cheaper) and present possible innovations?
It’s my opinion that if you are starting a grassroots effort to get innovation started at your organization, first get the ball rolling with the least amount of effort possible.
That means getting a few innovations documented to show the value of simply asking for ideas from employees or registering your own ideas (point #1 above). This would allow you to document the potential value of your efforts, which can be used to persuade management to look at providing a budget for leadership training and, eventually, innovation process development (points 2 & 3 above).
So where to start? Start small. Start lean. Start by learning and documenting basic innovations to show how eventually your organization can reap the benefits of being an undercover boss 24/7.