Do you ever think about where innovation actually happens? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not on Google.
What about the best FREE sources of innovation? Nope, wrong again; not Google or research.
It’s your people, and here’s why that is important for HR and business leaders.
Do you remember renting movies? It doesn’t feel so long ago that we went into video rental stores to choose the latest releases and buy some snacks. Then everything went digital, streaming online happened. Netflix happened. We can now stream them from the couch.
But the Blockbusters and VideoEzy’s of this world weren’t ready; they were disrupted. In fact, the last Blockbuster rental store in Australia just closed. And they’re not the only ones.
In the last 15 years, 52% of Fortune 500 companies have disappeared, eaten up by innovative, disruptive technology and the new industries that have been created.
Those who adapted; Amazon, Netflix, Google, Alibaba have soared to the top of the business food chain. They did this through innovating, listening to customers and their people to find opportunities and disrupt the status quo.
So what does all of this mean? In today’s day and age, we need to be on our toes. We need to be innovative if we still want jobs tomorrow; our organizations won’t exist otherwise. They will be like Blockbuster–another case study on what not to do.
Here’s the thing: HR can be the driver of innovation opportunities, the identifier of disruption and guardian of the business in organizations.
It’s very simple. Two types of people who know most about your product/service/industry are 1)Your customers and 2)Your employees. Asking customers what they think is difficult, and outside of HR’s role.
But using people analytics to leverage your people as the best source of innovation in the workplace? That’s something HR can do today.
Your people are your best and cheapest source of innovation. It’s the job of HR and management to provide a conduit to the amazing ideas that come from them.
By being the conduit, HR can help a business protect themselves from disruption and find new opportunities to innovate and make employees feel valuable by asking for their useful feedback. It can also help foster inclusiveness by demonstrably leveraging the diversity of your people and acting on their ideas.
Here’s how in 3 steps:
- Survey your people to find opportunities for innovation
- Use analytics to understand the results and present them to leadership teams
- Create a digital idea suggestion box.
1. Survey your people
(here’s one of our surveys)
Your people are your best source of innovation in your organization. Sending out an annual, quarterly or even monthly (but short) innovation survey, with questions designed to find innovative ideas and foster entrepreneurship, is a great way HR can help businesses be more innovative. Innovation is a constant, ongoing battle, requiring ongoing feedback and ideation from your team; you can encourage this by asking for ideas as part of a monthly check-in process with;
Do you have any ideas you have to improve your role or our company?
Asking for their feedback and input also helps boost employee engagement by showing you truly value the people in your organization. Through our research, some questions we’ve found to be highly effective include:
- How innovative is our organization? (this is a temperature check)
- In your team, are there any areas, processes or practices that you could innovate or change to improve?
- What experiment would you like to see us run that would improve the way we do things?
2. Use your people analytics
Help leadership identify opportunities and threats with analytics
The survey you just ran is only useful if you can surface trends, find entrepreneur champions and dig down into the HR data. This is where HR analytics come in. intelliHR is an HR system that uses analytics to highlight patterns across different parts of the organization, to see the words being used in response to the questions, and understand how innovative our people think our organization is.
As an executive, having valuable insights from your people and their ideas presents a new goldmine–a free crowdsourced idea generator from the people exposed to every part of your operation. You can also identify threats much faster by asking your people, the ones who are on frontlines, rather than by guessing.
3. Ideas box
Create a digital idea suggestion box
Sometimes, the hardest part of getting great ideas from your people is providing them a place to contribute. We’ve all heard of suggestion boxes and idea boxes, usually filled with nasty notes or unhelpful comments about the workplace.
There’s a better way.
Creating a self-service, always available digital idea suggestion box is one way you can give your people a space to submit new, and innovative ideas. Better than just scrap paper and a cardboard box, you can give a structure that encourages constructive and thoughtful feedback, designing your suggestion box to ask for things like where is your idea relevant? (team, department, company etc) and how would this idea improve things over the current way?
Using people analytics: the wrap-up
HR can be a driving force behind innovation in an organization, and they have a responsibility to do so, for inclusion, diversity and engagement reasons.
- Survey your people with questions designed to inspire innovation
- Analyze the results, find trends and present the insights to strategy teams
- Have a self-service, always accessible Ideas box and draw attention to it, making idea suggestion easily accessible. Break down the barriers.