D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

A Simple Framework for Creating a Culture of Innovation

Sunday, April 29, 2012 11:37 PM

I tweeted at the Sask 3.0 Summit that I’d put up a blog post on how we encourage innovation at my work, Online Business Systems. There was a presentation at the summit which showed a framework for innovation, but seemed quite large for what many organizations really need…especially those that are just starting to encourage their people to come forward with ideas and innovations.

There’s a few things that innovation requires to really thrive within an organization.

Commitment and Openness

There needs to be commitment from the organization itself that they will support their employees innovative ideas. Openness is a key component of this. Some organizations hold that certain people in certain positions in certain departments are the only ones that can come up with ideas. An innovative organization embraces the belief that ideas can come from any employee and everyone should be open to hear and consider what’s being put forward. Nobody will suggest things if they don’t think they have a shot of seeing it become a reality.

Showing commitment to innovation and an openness to hearing ideas are key aspects of creating a culture of innovation

Resources

Whether its time, money, people, or equipment, resources are necessary to ensure that an innovative idea has a chance of becoming a reality. If you’re going to be serious about encouraging innovation you need to be serious about providing necessary resources.

Yup, that’s really it…

Commitment, Openness, and Resources are the three key things you need…well, maybe one other thing: an opportunity for people to express their innovative ideas! At Online we’ve borrowed a format from a popular Canadian TV show, Dragon’s Den. But instead, we call it the Innovation Den and we’re nowhere near as nasty as Kevin O’Leary.

How the Innovation Den Works

Every few months we hold an Innovation Den. Leading up to the day, employees are encouraged to submit their innovation ideas for consideration. Then on the day of the Den, times are arranged for individuals to pitch their idea to our region’s managing Directors. The pitch needs to include:

- What the idea is

- What the benefits are

- What resources are required

Questions are asked, discussions are had, and in the end those ideas selected get what they asked for and the commitment from the company to support them in their endeavour.

This process has worked very well, with some fantastic ideas being brought forward. In the coming weeks we’ll have the output of one of those announced (can’t talk on it right now), but let me give you an example of an idea I put forth.

We were planning on bringing someone in to do presentation training. This training wasn’t free and wasn’t cheap, but was from a respected corporate training company and there was value in offering it to our employees. When I read what would be covered and who the target audience was, I knew that I could put together an even better course for less money than they were charging us just to send attendees to. Not only that, but because it would be developed as part of Online we’d have a repeatable, internal course that could be delivered to all our regions and as often as we wanted to. There was also significant cost savings!

I pitched this idea, outlining the benefits and resources required, and the idea got put through! These are the things that fostering a culture of innovation can yield – employees with great ideas that can impact your organization in ways you might not have even dreamed of emerge with confidence that they’ll be listened to seriously.

This is one very simple model that works well, doesn’t require large amounts of time, and can produce beneficial results quickly. If you have another successful model that you’ve seen, feel free to comment on it below!




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