Employee-driven innovation is crucial to competing in today’s marketplace, so why isn’t every organization partaking in it?
No one wants to look like they’re losing their authority. By opening up the challenges the organization is facing and making the decision-making process a little more transparent, it’s only natural for management to feel vulnerable. You’re asking for help and looking for new perspectives that might not come from the boardroom. Still, employees appreciate transparency, and see employee-driven innovation as an opportunity to contribute, not weakness by management.
Taking risks isn’t the most comfortable thing. Every industry is capable of innovation and improvement, so it comes down to the organization itself to change. While some in top management encourage risk-taking among their employees, others just want them to keep their heads down and do the job they were hired to do (among other mistakes). Taking a “risk” to accept “risk-taking” among your employees is hard, but can yield huge returns with a properly managed program.
Faith and trust can vary among employees. Unfortunately, not every employee is a “star”, and its often those at the bottom that spoil opportunities for the rest. Still, you can’t afford to prevent your best employees from fulfilling their true potential. Dive in and trust that your employees will be ready (with some help) and willing to contribute to an employee-driven innovation approach, and have a plan in place to contain those who are prone to trouble.
Time is never not an issue. Transitioning to a more employee-driven innovation program sounds like a massive undertaking. In reality, empowering employees with time, resources, and power to identify and act on their new improvements or ideas takes stress off management, and gives them the chance to support employees in the process instead of leading it themselves.
Resources always seem stretched. A new or improved employee-driven innovation program requires an initial commitment of resources from cash to tools to meeting rooms. It’s not always easy to pull the trigger on committing something that’s always in short supply, but with great risk comes great reward if you’re able to project and achieve a strong return on your investment.
These challenges and mentalities can be hard to overcome, especially for organizations who are happy and have been successful doing things “their way” for years. But regardless of industry, it’s only a matter of time before they’re disrupted by new competitors, products, or services in the marketplace.
Staying agile and employing a workforce that can contribute ideas, a corporate strategy that promotes change and continuous improvement, and a culture that holds it all together is essential to survival in today’s marketplace.
Implementing a strong employee-driven innovation program takes practice, time, commitment, and support from others in the organization, but is possible. The benefits are more engaged employees, a consistent flow of new ideas and approaches, and a leaner organization where everyone can thrive.