Unleashing Innovation: Are You Up For A Challenge?

Innovation, innovation, innovation. When CEO’s were asked by IBM how they envisioned their companies to grow in 2014, they all pointed to innovation of their current products and services as the main driver for improved results. Most of these leaders added they were looking for ways to bring about these innovations from within, but that they were not yet sure how that could happen.

Not far from now, we’re 100 days away from 2014 to end – and so we’re curious: where’s your company at? Did you succeed in finding ways to fuel innovation from inside of your organization? How many breakthrough ideas were spotted and put into the funnel for execution?

From what we’ve heard, most companies are still struggling with unleashing the innovation powers of their employees. It’s not an easy process for sure, as it is far from a one-time event.

Positively Impact the Bottom Line

If you want high quality and high volume of ideas for innovation, to positively impact the bottom line, it requires a culture different from that often still alive in most organizations: a culture built on trust, transparency, recognition, ownership and collaboration.

As we’ve come to understand, successful innovation is not about ideas – there’s plenty of ideas available, and even when you’d argue not all are good ones (which is absolutely true) and you’d pick a very tiny percentage of all ideas being born daily in your organization, our bet would be that the amount of these ideas-with-potential, is still large enough for distilling even further towards finding some real winners.

Three Crucial Elements

The trick is to have those ideas being out there put into action, instead of laying dormant inside the heads of your employees. When asked about ideas and the willingness to implement them, the majority of young professionals and aspiring corporate innovators mention they feel they lack three crucial elements, which keeps them from taking action: time, resources and support.

And those who do commit to trying anyways, report to find themselves unprepared for doing whatever it takes to get it implemented. Especially in your first years in the corporate world, you don’t know how it all works – decision making, politics, stakeholder interests, timing and alignment with organizational objectives.

Since a company culture can only be transformed by doing things the new way instead of the old, one action at a time, you best start with one single step. A great way to creating a company culture supporting innovation from within, building on these five elements mentioned earlier, is to facilitate those employees with a potentially good idea in taking the leap and converting their ideas into reality.

Where to Start

Start with reaching out to those employees with that imaginary light bulb above their heads. Tell them you value their ideas, and that you want to offer them a chance for implementing them. Offer them a challenge: you can spend some portion of your time on your idea, you get the resources and support you need, and you get the opportunity to develop essential skills. And add some motivation to the challenge by putting a clear deadline for delivering results – why not pick that horizon of 100 days before the year ends?

Maybe their idea is not that good, and it will not survive the first round of feedback from key stakeholders. Maybe some of them will fail because they find out their idea was not in sync with the overarching goals of your company. Maybe some will just do a lousy job of communicating their ideas and presenting a proper business case.

But maybe… some will succeed. Some will find ways through traditional barriers. Some will show exceptional qualities for storytelling and pitching ideas. Some will be natural-born innovators, suddenly being able to do something they really believe in.

It’s Been Said…

You never know if you don’t try. Or better said, you never know if you don’t get them trying. And we can help you with that in such a way that chances of success are highest. Our 100 Days Intrapreneurs Challenge is designed to guide the newest cohort of employees towards implementing their best idea for innovation, within 100 days. We’ve got impactful video lectures, personal coaching and mastermind groups lined up to support them.

Can you remember the first time you managed to change something or convinced a senior manager about your great idea? Possibly, that was one of the defining moments for your career. Offering your eager beavers the opportunity to grow in the same way, will not only lead to some great ideas being implemented, you effectively build that new culture – one employee at a time. What are you waiting for?

Apply Now

(About the Author: What if people feel fulfilled and engaged at work, and organizations thrive by having a positive impact on the world? Hans Balmaekers is driven to transform that vision into reality. He is the founder of sa.am, offering corporate mavericks, change makers and impactful leaders a global network of like-minded people, and an environment for collaboration and learning – both online and offline.

The next edition of the sa.am 100 Days Intrapreneurs Challenge starts on September 8, with the goal of offering 100 aspiring intrapreneurs the guidance, support and tools they need to turn their ideas into actual results before the end of the year. More info here.)

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

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