Apple, 3M and Google are prime examples of companies reaping the benefits of ideas generated by someone in their organisation. However, far too many companies still fail to benefit from the ideas of their staff.
So how do you get everybody to come forward with ideas they have for any area of the company? Could be ideas applicable to short term as well as long term benefits. Frequently management find it difficult to find out about all the different ideas employees have. They are unaware of anything from small ideas that would slightly improve their database to ideas that could result in new successful products – or even ideas that would completely change how the organisation operate. So how do you go about reaping the benefits from ideas your staff have?
Let staff know you value their ideas
The first thing to communicate is that you are sincerely interested in any idea someone in your organisation might have. Make sure they feel welcome presenting ideas to you even if the idea isn’t yet fully developed. Find simple ways that enable anyone from the cleaner up to take their ideas further than chatting to colleagues about them during a coffee break. Give them courage to present their ideas to colleagues and management. And make sure they are not afraid of looking ridiculous or get reprimanded for having suggestions.
If you don’t know about the abundance of ideas floating around in the organisation you are missing opportunities to develop and innovate, not to mention earning money. By listening to everyone your chances of finding new strategies and opportunities increase.
Ideas lost may be money lost
The more ideas are saved, mixed and worked on the better for an organisation. And it’s time to move on from the boxes where employees dot down a few ideas for the management to read. Frequently such communication neither give credit to ideas nor does it enable colleagues to discuss and develop a seed into something that can be used.
Develop ideas during office hours
To give an idea a fair chance the person behind it should be able to come forward with it and explain the benefits. One way would be to have monthly or weekly meetings where ideas can be presented to colleagues and management. The more ideas see the light of day the more ideas will be created and developed.
Brainstorm on a regular basis
In my experience brainstorming is a wonderful way of developing ideas, not to mention whole organisations. And it’s mainly ideas that are far out, almost regarded as crazy, that turn out to be the best. It’s hence best to have as many people as possible participating so that a seed can be creatively developed. It’s also crucial that people keep an open mind and don’t discard something that may turn out to be a bestseller before it’s developed.
Develop a culture that embrace ideas
For ideas to flourish staff must feel that they are appreciated for putting forward ideas and encouraged to think, question and be innovative. Obviously not all ideas are good ideas but you will lose out on the good ones if staff don’t let you know what they would like to improve.
When a lot of people come together and give feedback a lot of good ideas are developed. Even more so when people from different cultures join forces and look at innovations from different perspectives, which is one of the key assets of companies like Google and Apple.
Once you have developed a system where everybody in the organisation are encouraged to develop their ideas and present them you will not only get a lot of ideas but a culture where staff dare communicating what they would like to improve as well as increase the creativity of the organisation enormously. The result will be an atmosphere that is fun, people like to go to work, aren’t afraid to make mistakes and new products and services will be created that otherwise would never have seen the light of day.
Jump on the Google & Apple innovation band-waggon
Far too many companies all over the world have a culture where only the management are allowed to think and have ideas. So many that it’s often assumed that’s the case, even if management would like to develop a culture where everybody contributes. If that’s the case, it’s time for you to start communicating that you are open to all ideas and let staff know that you are interested in their thoughts and ideas. They will never know if you don’t let them know.
What are you doing to encourage a creative atmosphere that breeds ideas? Does staff come to you and explain their ideas? Do you have regular brainstorming session to find and develop ideas? Or is this an area you have neglected since it seems to complicated? If so, it’s high time you follow in the footsteps of Google and Apple and create a culture that breeds success.
(Photo: PhotoXpress – Stasys Eidiejus)