Ideas.com: HOW to develop an environment for the development of ideas and the improvement of the engagement!
How many innovations died within big corporations, whose managers failed to spot a breakthrough idea in unchartered seas of innovation portals and CTOs’ e-mail boxes? Through the years corporate entrepreneurs generated millions of ideas that were doomed to be deadborn...
In a rapidly changing world, many companies are facing challenges of unleashing capabilities, fostering creativity, and encouraging people to commit to ambitious goals. Our moonshot is a business process, rewarding employees for exhibiting high standards of corporate entrepreneurship. The key elements of this business process would include i) an Innovation Portal, part of the company’s intranet, functioning in the format of the corporate social network, ii) the Board of the Portal, consisting of senior managers, divisional heads, and junior experts, who would assess ideas posted on the Innovation Portal, and iii) The Annual Awards Ceremony “The Corporate Entrepreneur of the Year,” at which winners in different categories will receive financial prizes and the most successful team of corporate entrepreneurs will be granted an opportunity to develop their project in a spin-off.
The idea to establish a bottom-up flow of innovations tapping into intellectual potential of talented team members will be tested in one of the key regions of a big multinational company (for instance, in an engineering department or in a sales team ).
The highest award that can be granted only to a successful team of highly creative managers and employees would be the right to work on his project in a spin-off, reporting directly to a senior manager, a moral sponsor of the idea. Employees of this spin-off would tend to take entrepreneurial risks as they would put their own ideas at stake.
However, awards would also support existing projects with outstanding performance or achievements. These would apply to projects launched several years ago that are currently ‘work in process.’
In a number of industries, to succeed is to constantly innovate or get out of the market. To maintain a flow of innovative ideas means to ensure that the entrepreneurial attitude, rewarding breakthrough ideas and forgiving mistakes (‘it’s OK to fail’), is shared by most members of the team and strongly embedded in the corporate culture. This does not come overnight as it will require a critical mass of innovators, brave enough to break existing rules and be entrepreneurs in the corporate world.
Some studies show that there is not a lack of bright ideas but a lack of follow up and that diffusion of ideas is one of the biggest problem in companies. In some of our companies, we have a lot of people having a bright idea but they do not have access to the senior management and do not have any support from a financial and human resources point of view.
The problem is to manage to set up a reconciliation between the exchange of ideas, awards recognitions, the entrepreneurship spirit renovation, and a silo destruction.
The mission is to help relatively powerless people in the organisation get an effective channel to propose AND develop excellent ideas.
- Stay competitive through innovation. The innovation would come from employees and should be secured and encouraged by executives and a larger group. Employees should also be encouraged to take risks (entrepreneurial spirit).
- Be internally efficient and sustainable. Make people commit to corporate values, maintain trust and increase communication within the company in order to avoid silos.
This portal should be easily accessed and have a user-friendly interface. Visiting this website, employees could easily publish their innovative ideas, post comments on ideas of their colleagues, participate in professional forums, and be kept in the loop about exclusive corporate innovation-related news.
Any employee could drop an idea on the portal. This idea could be either private in order to have a feedback from the senior management or be opened for a public or group discussion. At the application stage, any employee interested in joining a team could contact the person having the idea.
It will absolutely crucial that the authors of ideas get feedback from the Board. Late or inadequate responses could result in dissatisfaction and even further disengagement.
Through the selection process, facilitated by the Board, a very few realistic ideas will be identified and developed in a kind of a business nursery, different from a classic corporate environment of top-down driven or matrix structures. Winning teams could be supported in terms of finance, career, organisation, and training.
The way to a financial award would include the following steps.
Firstly, an individual or a group of employees could apply for an award online, submitting the detailed description of their idea.
Secondly, the idea would be open for other people to join and contribute.
And finally, best projects would be subject to votes of the whole company on the portal and the final Board review.
Commercialization of ideas.
The portal would ensure support to winning ideas from framing to business planning and implementation. Innovators and ‘corporate entrepreneurs’ would be given the right to develop their projects in a separated project team or even a spin-off, reporting directly to a senior manager, a moral sponsor of the idea. Employees of this spin-off would tend to take entrepreneurial risks as they would put their own ideas at stake.
Employees would have the choice to come back to their current positions or continue working on the newly developed project.
As we know, only one in ten start-ups normally survives. Members of failed projects would be very welcome to come back to their current positions (‘it’s OK to fail’).
Benefit: more people with entrepreneurial mindset, viral effects of corporate entrepreneurship. Metric: number of portal visitors per month; statistics on innovative ideas and articles about innovations. Number of new patents.
Benefit: exponential increase in the number of bottom-up innovative ideas aligned with the corporate business goals. Metric: the number of ideas that would be implemented.
Benefit: more cross-departmental cooperation. One would expect that some ideas would be proposed / developed by teams. That would destroy silos and stimulate team work. Metric: the number of innovative ideas suggested and developed by teams. Teams may receive more support (including finance, opportunity to develop an idea in a spin-off, access to a variety of training programmes). One way to check the silos destruction is to monitor the number of ideas and projects supported by people from different departments.
Olivier Doublet, Boaz Magid,Sergey Khristolyubov, Sanjeev Kumar, Stephane Puig.