Do you ever think about where innovation actually happens? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not on Google.
What about the best FREE sources of innovation? Nope, wrong again; not Google or research.
It’s your people, and here’s why that is important for HR and business leaders.
Do you remember renting movies? It doesn’t feel so long ago that we went into video rental stores to choose the latest releases and buy some snacks. Then everything went digital, streaming online happened. Netflix happened. We can now stream them from the couch.
But the Blockbusters and VideoEzy’s of this world weren’t ready; they were disrupted. In fact, the last Blockbuster rental store in Australia just closed. And they’re not the only ones.
In the last 15 years, 52% of Fortune 500 companies have disappeared, eaten up by innovative, disruptive technology and the new industries that have been created.
Those who adapted; Amazon, Netflix, Google, Alibaba have soared to the top of the business food chain. They did this through innovating, listening to customers and their people to find opportunities and disrupt the status quo.
So what does all of this mean? In today’s day and age, we need to be on our toes. We need to be innovative if we still want jobs tomorrow; our organisations won’t exist otherwise. They will be like Blockbuster–another case study on what not to do.
It’s very simple. Two types of people who know most about your product/service/industry are 1)Your customers and 2)Your employees. Asking customers what they think is difficult, and outside of HR’s role.
But leveraging your people as the best source of innovation? That’s something HR can do today.
Your people are your best and cheapest source of innovation. It’s the job of HR and management to provide a conduit to the amazing idea’s that come from them.
By being the conduit, HR can help a business protect themselves from disruption and find new opportunities to innovate and make employee’s feel valuable by asking for their useful feedback. It can also help foster inclusiveness by demonstrably leveraging the diversity of your people and acting on their ideas.
(here’s one of our surveys)
Your people are your best source of innovation in your organisation. Sending out an annual, quarterly or even monthly (but short) innovation survey, with questions designed to find innovative idea’s and foster entrepreneurship, is a great way HR can help businesses be more innovative. Innovation is a constant, ongoing battle, requiring ongoing feedback and ideation from your team; you can encourage this by asking for ideas as part of a monthly check-in process with;
Do you have any ideas you have to improve your role or our company?
Asking for their feedback and input also helps boost engagement by showing you truly value the people in your organisation. Through our research, some questions we’ve found to be highly effective:
Help leadership identify opportunities and threats with analytics
The survey you just ran is only useful if you can surface trends, find entrepreneur champions and dig down into the data. This is where analytics come in. intelliHR uses analytics to highlight patterns across different parts of the organisation, to see the words being used in response to the questions and understand how innovative our people think our organisation is. As an executive, having valuable insights from your people and their idea’s presents a new goldmine–a free crowdsourced idea generator from the people exposed to every part of your operation. You can also identify threats much faster by asking your people, the ones who are on frontlines, rather than by guessing.
Create a digital idea suggestion box
Sometimes, the hardest part of getting great ideas from your people is providing them a place to contribute. We’ve all heard of suggestion boxes and idea boxes, usually filled with nasty notes or unhelpful comments about the workplace.
There’s a better way.
Creating a self-service, always available digital idea suggestion box is one way you can give your people a space to submit new, and innovative ideas. Better than just scrap paper and a cardboard box, you can give a structure that encourages constructive and thoughtful feedback, designing your suggestion box to ask for things like where is your idea relevant? (team, department, company etc) and how would this idea improve things over the current way?
HR can be a driving force behind innovation in an organisation, and they have a responsibility to do so, for inclusion, diversity and engagement reasons.
Samuel Holston is a Customer Engagement Specialist at intelliHR.
Sam is keenly curious about the digitisation of the workplace, the implications of which can be felt in managing people; the future of work, technology and HR.