Employee-Driven Innovation is more than just taking Action on Ideas

Employee-Driven Innovation

Encouraging employees to come up with ideas and try them out sounds great, but isn’t the full answer for an effective employee-driven innovation program.

Trae Tessmann|
July 28, 2017

Encouragement is great, but it’s just part of effective employee-driven innovation.


Front-line employees within an organization are an exceedingly powerful source of new ideas and perspectives. But even if they’re coming up with lists of new ideas, sometimes they can be a little farfetched, lack scalability, or are just not possible to implement. While that might appear to say something about the employees themselves, something else might be going on.


Your employees are capable of amazing things, but they can use some help, especially when it comes to new ideas. While 38% of employees say their managers encourage them to take action on their ideas, not every idea is a winner or should be tried out. In order to maintain a successful continuous improvement plan and get the ideas you need, management must be willing to play an active role in supporting their employees every step of the way.


Here are a few things your employees could use to help the organization get the ideas they need.


Provide Direction

By outlining challenges faced by the organization and the types of ideas you’re looking for (even generally), you’ll begin to eliminate the likelihood an idea isn’t applicable or is outside the capabilities of the organization. With this knowledge and context, employees will be thinking about the “right” types of ideas you need, and will be much more likely to take action with the confidence that they know it’s something the organization is looking for.


Provide Feedback

As feedback can come in many forms, it needs to be provided at all stages of employee-driven innovation from ideation to development. Positive feedback can motivate an employee to move forward with their idea, while negative can help them learn more or improve their idea in the future. It should also come from a variety of sources like fellow employees, top management, and even customers.


Provide Support

Giving an employee permission or encouragement to move forward with their idea is useless if they don’t have the resources they need. Help from fellow employees, additional time to work on it, and resources to at least build a case-study or do some preliminary interviews with fellow employees or customers are all necessary to determine valid need and properly test their idea.



Encouraging employees to come up with ideas and try them out sounds great, but isn’t the full answer for an effective employee-driven innovation program. Ideas are easy. Idea management, implementation and success are not. With some creative thinking exercises and structure, you can give your employees the freedom they need, while also providing direction, feedback, and support to come up with applicable ideas, test them, and bring them to life to keep the organization moving in the right direction.



Considering a new employee-driven innovation approach?

Learn more about how to manage it.



About Trae Tessmann

Co-founder of Ideawake

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