According to a survey of 500+ executives published by Accenture in 2013, 93% of businesses ranked innovation among the top 10 of their strategic priorities, 18% putting it at the top of the priority pile, and only 1% considering it not important. Interestingly, only 18% believe that innovation is resulting in competitive advantage.
The survey explains why: Organizations with a holistic, formal system for innovation report better outcomes at 31%, compared to those with informal systems at 13% and no systems or processes at 17%.
Aside from businesses taking a low-risk approach to innovation, which, in the long run, is a risk in and of itself, this survey tells us that a methodical approach to innovation is, by far, more effective.
The social aspect of innovation
Business innovation can mean creating better products, improving existing processes or implementing new ideas. Better products and improved processes, just like new ideas, start as concepts. Concepts, thankfully, are not limited to top-level executives and management. When asked the right questions, your people, no matter their positions in the company, have inputs to contribute, and it’s worth tapping into them for reasons that include the following:
- Employees develop a sense of pride in knowing they can make a difference, that the ideas they contribute can fuel the growth of the business.
- Bringing them into the ideation process fosters a good employer-employee relationship and develops their trust in management, which eventually drives employee retention and overall job satisfaction.
- If your ideas are centered on improving customer experience, next to the customers themselves, the best group to tap are your customer-facing employees.
- Even the most brilliant business ideas face opposition. Employee participation in the idea generation process can limit the chances of this happening, if not eliminate it altogether.
- Because they’re the ones manning the business operations, they recognize the strengths and challenges of your procedures. The ideas they’re likely to pitch are geared towards work simplification overall.
- If two heads are better than one, having more than two is a party, right?
Idea generation and social collaboration platforms
Idea generation is a process involving creation and development of ideas that can be visual, concrete or abstract. The idea is then refined and, when ready, is pushed to actualization. In essence, it is much like software development, or development of any product for that matter, as an idea or concept that cannot be brought to reality is probably not a good idea.
Because it is a process, for collaborative idea generation to be effective, utilizing a social collaboration software helps a great deal, especially for brainstorming sessions that cannot be made possible due to geography and time zone restrictions. Social collaboration platforms, which can take the form of blogs, wikis and forums, encourage idea exchange among interested and relevant parties. Participants contribute as equals, no hierarchical barriers, as in a traditional top-down organizational structure.
Comindware Tracker – social collaboration software
Comindware Tracker, aside from the myriad of things it can do is, at the core, a social collaboration platform. It promotes visibility, effective communication and teamwork. It keeps everyone informed of the status of an idea, and if research to support its validity or feasibility is required, files and documents can be uploaded for everyone’s perusal. Discussions are saved in the appropriate commenting section for easy access and review.
Facilitating idea generation and participation through enterprise social collaboration software is a good move, as taking on a company-wide social collaboration approach can be more cost-effective than on-boarding pricey consultants. But of course, you’re free to take the consultant route if you feel your team collaboration efforts have to be supplemented.
Market dynamics and consumer needs are changing, and rapidly at that. To stay relevant, a company must be able to quickly adapt and innovate, if need be. “Quick” being the operative word, social collaboration becomes an imperative. When properly leveraged, it is a key ingredient to better and faster idea development, management of unstructured processes, best practices and work discovery – the business’s building blocks, collectively.
And when you start thinking of idea generation in terms of product creation (holistic, methodical, end-to-end), only then can your business be truly innovative.