There isn’t a single client of mine that doesn’t value innovation. Helping the people in your organisation recognise the innovations to which they contribute is essential for cultivating an innovative culture.
Below is a simple yet effective technique you can use in under two hours to recognise and celebrate innovation in your organisation. The method can be applied to on-site, online or hybrid delivery techniques.
Following the principle of keeping things simple, I define innovation in two categories. The first is Disruptive Innovations which are the first of their kind anywhere in the world. They produce benefits that disrupt the way we communicate and work. For example, Apple created the world first in the early 2000s when they created the swipe function for the mobile phone. This innovation disrupted everything from social communication to music, the way business is conducted, and more. By definition, disruptive innovations are rarer than the second form of innovation.
Incremental Innovations occur when you take something that already exists in the world and adapt it to your context where it didn’t previously exist. If the outcome benefits your organisation, then it is an incremental innovation! Technology is a significant driver of these types of innovations. A simple example may be the use of technology to increase the ease of an online application so that similar fields are auto-filled, making it easier for the applicant to complete the form. Please note that incremental innovations are not limited to technology.
Below is the outline for an innovation workshop you can modify for your purposes. Feel free to contact me if you require any clarification on the process.
Innovation recognition workshop
- Invite as many team members as possible
- Form groups of no more than four team members per group (ideally, group members will originate from different work teams, as this helps to break down silos)
- Remind team members of the two types of innovation
- In their groups, team members generate innovations that have occurred over the past six, twelve or 24 months (a longer time frame may be suitable if you are doing this for the first time)
- Each innovation should include the following information:
- Innovation name
- Names of staff members who catalysed and “drove” the implementation of the innovation
- A general overview of the innovation
- When the innovation was implemented
- The innovations target audience (e.g. some innovations may target staff, whereas others may be for clients, customers etc.)
- Quantitative or qualitative data that highlights the benefits the innovation has generated
- Please note that more than one innovation can be generated per group.
6. After a set period, each innovation will be presented via a short Town Hall session. Aim to keep these presentations to one or two minutes per presentation. Sticky notes can be used in any delivery format for staff to add questions or comments to each of the innovations as they are being presented.
7. Re-form the groups to complete the innovations, generate new ones, collect more data, and prepare responses to any questions raised during the presentations.
8. Return to a second Town Hall session. Present any new innovations that weren’t presented in the first round. Provide all groups with an opportunity to quickly respond to questions raised in the first set of presentations and to share any further relevant information about the innovation.
If you would like to create a set of Innovations Awards, this is the point you could allocate three, two and one votes to all staff. Each staff has the opportunity to place their votes, with three being for the innovation they believe has produced the most significant benefit for the organisation, two for the innovation that has had the second biggest impact, and one for the innovation with the third most significant impact. Encourage staff to maintain an open mind as this isn’t about focusing on the innovations they may have been discussing in their groups.
When all votes are allocated, count them and provide awards for as many innovations as possible.
If you choose to include this element of the process, ensure you explain the voting process in the introduction to the session.
Validating innovations catalyses more of them
From my experience, a guaranteed outcome of this process is that people will raise innovations after the session that weren’t identified in the workshop. This is normal, and find a way to capture and recognise these when they surface.
Second, the workshop helps staff realise that innovations are constantly occurring, allowing them to see themselves as innovators, creating the mindset for innovating as you move forward. Without too much effort, you can create a positive re-enforcing loop that states loud and clear, “Innovation matters, here!”
What processes do you use to capture and celebrate innovations in your organisation?
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By Gary Ryan