Recently, we had a meeting with the CEO of a medium sized knowledge company. He was sharing with us the campaigns and initiatives around their innovation program. He said he was facing a unique issue. While individuals are extremely enthusiastic when it comes to innovation and creativity training, the number of ideas that they are contributing is actually abysmally low. This is not an isolated instance where we are hearing this issue from senior management with respect to their innovation programs
Many corporate realise the importance of innovation as a strategic differentiator. Few are taking the cue seriously and getting into concrete action. Most of us are trained to be anti-creative. As we go through their life, the conditioning of sticking to the crowd, has made blunt our instruments of imagination and spirit of experimentation. So companies need to provide training on tools and techniques to their employee set, so that these can be sharpened. Their first step should be to have an across the board training that is aimed to sensitize and tickle into action the hidden creativity of their employees. While companies often get this step right – they fail in the subsequent one.
Neither the company nor the employees are clear on what they have to do once they become creative. Employees are seldom aware of where and how to contribute. What will happen to their contribution? What is the progress path of a good suggestion? What is the fallout of a rejection? Lack of a system and process for innovation program – shrouds the initiative in mystery. When participants are not aware of the path of an idea within the firm, the opaqueness discourages them. Transparency of an idea lifecycle is a must in an innovation program. Failure to have this will yield little results, despite a great innovation campaign and training program.
Innovation program need a holistic design and approach. It should not be just limited to training. When only parts of the program are put in place – the expected results don’t appear. And this is no surprise!