In today’s business environment, organisations face several challenges: global competition becomes tougher and tougher, disruptive technologies, solutions, and business models make the whole value chain void in only a few years, and the ever-increasing regulations impact the business negatively. In order to remain competitive, innovation is the only way to « survive ».
However, many organisations struggle to innovate because:
- Employees do not participate enough
- Innovation programs only cover one specific area (silo)
- Innovation happens too much top down (managers) and not enough bottom up (all employees)
- Not enough good ideas are generated
- Innovation programs work for a while, but then die off
- Innovation programs do not deliver sustainable results
- Innovation programs are only single projects, and not an ongoing process
In order to overcome these challenges, organisations nowadays can implement an open innovation strategy, which leverages the maximum potential from all employees and systematically fosters innovation.
The Digital Workplace Crowd-Sourcing Approach
A mature Digital Workplace improves the communication inside the organisation, fosters the collaboration amongst all employees, and last but not least drives service and product improvements through open innovation. Within the Digital Workplace Framework, one of the key components is Crowd Sourcing. Crowd Sourcing allows taping into the “wisdom” of all employees for sourcing and enriching ideas, collaborating around a common goal such as a business opportunity, and harvesting organisational knowledge. Therefore, a sustainable open innovation strategy must rely on crowd-sourcing in order to bring an effective answer to the above-mentioned challenges.
The strategy should be articulated around the innovation lifecycle steps: engage, evaluate, and execute.
In order to engage the employees in this strategy, the organisation should first provide a common and centralised platform, where any employee can share, evaluate, and rate ideas. Hence, ideas can flow across the whole organisation and break the existing silos. Irrespective of how good the platform is, it is “only” a tool, which needs to be actively managed for keeping the interest high among the employees. For instance, a dedicated team can regularly add new content such as ideas, challenges (i.e. business issue/problem), which will be rated, evaluated, and improved by the employees through their contributions. In the long term, employees will not contribute just for the sake of it and expect something in return. Therefore, incentives should be put in place, such as rewarding systems that boost employees’ engagement. Based on their contributions’ quality and quantity, a reputation ranking system can promote the employees to different levels e.g. power user, gold user, VIP… Another example is a point-based system, where employees collect points and use them to buy items in an online store.
Constantly engaging the employees brings many ideas. For the organisation, the next step is to identify the most promising ones. Proper evaluation criteria need then to be set-up. For instance, the focus can be on the ideas, whose the number of favorable votes exceeded a pre-defined threshold. Another criterion is the number of idea’s refinements i.e. the idea needs to pass through a pre-defined number of refinement’s iterations before being moved forward. Last but not least, the idea needs to be assessed against the organisation’s strategy i.e. does this idea fit into the organisation’s overall strategy in terms of return of investment, financial risk…
When an idea successfully passed the evaluation step, it is mature enough to be transformed into products, services, or processes. In this case, a project management methodology (e.g. in-house, waterfall, agile…) will successfully drive this transformation. The idea transformation progress should be regularly updated, ideally through the innovation platform to clearly highlight that innovation is a continuous process and not only a simple collection of ideas.
Never miss an update by following us and subscribing to our monthly newsletter!