Your company needs the ideas of everyone working for it. Yes - your company needs your ideas!
Jeff Bezos wrote in the Amazon 2017 Annual Report:
“One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature. We didn’t ascend from our hunter-gatherer days by being satisfied. People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’. I see that cycle of improvement happening at a faster rate than ever before.”
One of the tenants of Amazon is that they focus on customers and the above statement from Jeff Bezos shows that they have to continually be making improvements that will keep their customers satisfied. Jeff Bezos also points out that the cycle of customer discontent is getting shorter and so improvements need to take place faster.
How does a company (your company) keep making improvements at an ever-increasing rate? The answer is that it needs the ideas of every single employee (you) that works for the company. You have new product ideas, new ways of serving a customer, input on what customers are needing, processes that need improving and thoughts on how the company should be operating.
Without your ideas, the company you work for is at risk of not catering for the changing needs of your customers and these customers will eventually – perhaps sooner than you think – move their business to a competitor.
You don’t need to be creative
“Listen to Everyone. Ideas come from everywhere”
- Tom Peters, business author and speaker
A lot of people think that a company is only interested in creative and transformational type of ideas. Well I can tell you that they are not. The ideas that you contribute will probably contribute to a category of innovation called “Incremental Innovation”.
Incremental innovation is defined as a series of small improvements or upgrades made to a company's existing products, services, processes or methods. The changes implemented through incremental innovation are usually focused on improving an existing product's development efficiency, productivity and competitive differentiation.
Companies need to continually change and evolve as the customers demand changes and your ideas will contribute to incremental innovation.
When you serve a customer and they are not totally satisfied then ask yourself why. What suggestions and ideas can you contribute to improve this? If you have started to believe that an improvement in a process can deliver a product or service faster and better, then let your company know.
You don’t have to be creative to contribute ideas to your company. You just have to care and contribute to the small improvements that will have a huge impact on the future success of your company.
Google’s Nine Principles of Innovation
Google is one of the most innovative companies in the world and they have put together a framework on how they do innovation. The very first principle in the framework is that every Google employee can, and should, contribute to innovation at Google.
Peter Brooke wrote an article on www.innovationcoach.com titled “Learn from the Best: Google’s Nine Principles of Innovation. Here is the first principle:
Innovation comes from anywhere. At Google, this principle emphasizes that innovation is in nobody’s job title, but is everyone’s responsibility. Moreover, ideas can come from anyone in the organization, regardless if they are top-level executives, employees who work in roles or departments not typically associated with innovation, or employees on the “bottom” of the company’s totem pole. For example, at Google it was their Google Health product manager who suggested that the company optimize information on suicide prevention hotlines whenever a related search was conducted. As a result of this innovative suggestion, Google’s search information results will automatically give a suggestion of where to call for help (i.e., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and its free, 24/7 phone hotline) when a user makes a Google search seemingly focused on suicide.
Hopefully this principle is true in your company.
Examples of companies that value employee ideas CSAA Insurance Group
The article “How One Insurance Firm Learned to Create an Innovation Culture” by Soren Kaplan in the Harvard Business Review, is a look at the employee-driven innovation program at CSAA Insurance Group.
“To help employees spot these opportunities, CSAA IG delivers innovation training to all employees. Its program provides tools and applied exercises based on design thinking, and makes it clear that everyone can—and should—contribute creative ideas for improvement in business processes, customer experiences, and product offerings."
“To help generate excitement for the idea management platform, during the first online innovation challenge event, anyone who submitted an idea was surprised with a physical paper light bulb posted in their cubicle workspace. With light bulbs popping up all around the office, employees’ motivation to participate skyrocketed – and the company’s first online challenge received an 80% participation rate.”
The results were astounding: Underwriters analyzed the company's call data to improve voice prompts and reduce misplaced calls . . . by 40 percent. Other employees jumped in to streamline online claims, improve the issuance of insurance cards -- and more.
“Innovation has nothing to do with how many
R&D Dollars you have.
When Apple came up with the Mac,
IBM was spending at least 100%
times more on R&D. It is not about the money.
It’s about the people
you have, how they are lead, and how much you get it.”
- Steve Jobs
Other reasons your ideas are important
For an innovation program to work at your company it needs a lot of participants. Your company needs you to be a participant.
On average, it takes five ideas to be submitted for an idea to be found that will then be further evaluated. Perhaps your idea will be the one selected?
Your company needs your input evaluating other ideas that people have suggested so that they can be refined and improved on.
A company needs your point of view and needs to hear your ideas.
“The key to success is to get out into the store
and listen to what the associates have to say.
It’s terribly important for everyone to get involved.
Our best ideas come from clerks and stockboys”
- Sam Walton – founder of Walmart
Your ideas are vital for the continuing success of your company. Contribute all of them – big and small – with confidence.
As always, I would value your comments on this article and how I can continue to add value.
“Introduction to Idea Management” eBook
I recently published an eBook that is available on Amazon.
If you would like to get an overview of Idea Management, then this eBook is for you. It consists of short easy to read chapters covering every element of Idea Management. If you would like a deeper understanding of any topic, then at least three links at the end of each chapter are provided for further reading.
You can find a link to the book here