The Third Element: Employee-Driven Innovation and Improvement
Unleashing creativity and innovation
Great organisations understand that a continual stream of ideas is a vital resource for improvement and innovation. They create times and spaces where people can discuss ideas with their co-workers or in their team meetings. They set up buzz boards where ideas can be shared and dedicated spaces where people can think in different ways together. They encourage meetings in cafés, a creative time away from the immediate pressures of the workplace. They enable ad hoc teams, awaydays, and times when people who otherwise wouldn’t meet are mixed together, a pool of dialogue and creativity.
It can be as simple as establishing regular forums that enable staff at all levels of an organisation to leave job titles and hierarchies behind, and to explore new ideas through open and free-thinking discussion.
Opportunities such as Down Tools Week at Red Gate Software enable staff to step back from the day job to develop their own ideas for new products and ways of working. In Devon and Cornwall Police these forums have generated great ideas for improving the service at a time of financial stringency. Electric bicycles, for example, are a great way of improving visibility while ensuring that officers can cover enough territory in remote rural areas.
Ideas for improving the business should also be part of the day job. Innocent encourages staff at every level to think continuously about ideas for improvement and innovation. Being 70% sure that an idea will work is sufficient to get the support needed to take it forward. The Met Office argues strongly that new ideas can come from anyone. A network of volunteer “guerrillas” recruited from every level of the organisation is gradually establishing a culture of innovation in ways that break down silos and release new waves of creativity. Likewise Arginta actively encourages employees to challenge managers when things aren’t working.
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