Innovate with People Power

I live and work in the North East of England, an area gaining attention for its innovative thinking and technical product development. But I’m noticing more and more that the word “innovation” is soon followed by “funding”, “investment” or “venture”. So, is it only large enterprises or those harnessing funding and costly expert advice that are truly able to innovate?

Once the industrial innovation capital of Britain, the North East has somewhat slipped into the false ideology that innovation is only achieved through costly investments and development of new operating techniques.

We all understand the cost of innovation; new technologies and methodologies which typically take large sums of time and money to implement. Combine that with the investment into innovation teams, research and development, systems improvements and equipment overheads, and the whole idea of innovation seems unattainable – especially if a substantial ROI can’t be achieved.

However, we fail to realise that new innovations can be found right under our noses – and it barely costs a penny.

Toyota, 3M and Google are just some of the world’s largest organisations using People Power to drive innovation. They’ve created an ‘innovation culture’, whereby employees are encouraged to input their ideas and feedback for active discussions and reviews.

Creative methods are used for gathering and evaluating employee ideas, which are then transferred to feasibility studies or sent out for a vote. By harnessing the power of their people, these organisations have been able to produce attainable plans for innovation across every area of their business.

If you spend a short amount of time asking each employee for an idea on how to innovate and improve their area of the business, you’re absolutely certain to receive some new and positive suggestions.

While it can be impractical to encourage all your staff to spend time thinking of ideas, improvements and giving feedback – and even more impractical evaluating and managing their inputs – there are quick, easy and cost-effective methods out there to achieve innovation through people power.

Flipcharts and post-it notes are a thing of the past.

No s***, Sherlock. They’ve been out-dated for years. However, we still continue to use them for discussions, reviews and thinking sessions because they’re cheap and everyone knows how to operate them.

Some organisations also use suggestion boxes and urge email communication regarding improvement discussions. Again, these are basic manual processes and, while easy to implement, most people don’t bother spending the time making suggestions or evaluating them.

So what can replace these prehistoric methods and how can we tap into the insight and talents of every person involved in an organisation?

By continuously encouraging communication, you’re facilitating continuous improvement. Why shouldn’t staff be encouraged to come up with their own ideas for innovations and improvements? We all have them, no matter what role we’re in, but we don’t all necessarily have the platform to voice them.

By encouraging just 2% of your employee’s day (around 10 minutes of an 8 hour shift) be spent coming up with an idea for improvement or giving feedback and suggestions, you’re implementing the same innovation culture which has led to phenomenal new and on-going improvements for the likes of Google, Toyota and 3M.

I’m not proposing a ‘hit and hope’ method, whereby thousands of suggestions are received and there’s little chance of any tangible ideas for innovation being produced. No. What I am proposing is a simple communication tool to drive your own innovation culture.

Please, not more data systems…

You’re lucky because that’s not what I’m proposing. I’m proposing you use an Innovation Portal to provide anywhere, anytime multi-channel communication which can be accessed by every employee on any device.

Wow. Amazing stuff. Bet it costs a fortune…

Nope. Innovation portals are cheap and easy to manage, require little or no infrastructure and can be scaled up to any size. There will always be costs involved where customisation is requested, but there is zero hardware overheads and employees can use their own devices.

The Innovation Portal is a game-changer for proactively solving issues and driving improvement, through harnessing innovation ideas from the front line to the director’s office.

System intelligence provides automation, as every single piece of information is analysed and assessed as positive or negative. We all have bad ideas, which is why you need a reliable way of filtering them out to aid the decision-making process.

By integrating voting tools into the innovation portal, you’re offering everyone the chance to have their say on what they think will and won’t work, as well as providing counter-suggestions and forum-style discussions.

The beauty of an innovation portal is the emphasis on encouraging the flow of ideas while promoting collaboration between teams. Two major players in producing tangible innovations to continuously improve your organisation.

People Power is such a simple, yet amazingly effective, way of gathering new and unique ideas for innovation, allowing you to tap into the unknown talents of your workforce to help drive improvements. If you’re not using your people to innovate, you’re doing it wrong.



LamasaTech is a global provider of digital solutions to enhance your innovation and improvement strategies. For further information about our Innovation Portal system and digital technology development, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.

LamasaTech HO – Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: +44 (0) 191 341 0016
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