It’s often been said that many brains are better than one. That applies in academia, in medicine, and in business. Companies that learn how to leverage their employees often end up doing a much better job than those that don’t. They’re more innovative, more dynamic, and more open.
It’s funny because most of the best ideas for improving a company don’t actually come from the senior management or bosses. Usually, they come from keen, ambitious, and creative employees who want to make a difference and get ahead. As a business, you never know when inspiration might strike, so it’s a good idea to maintain an open forum at all times. Employees need to be able to come to you with their eureka moments without fear of rejection.
It’s worth noting that every company does innovation a little differently. Take Google, for instance. Google has a policy where all employees get to work on their own work-related projects once a week. It’s an expensive practice, but it has also led to some of the company’s most innovative products.
For example, many of the features of Gmail we know and love today arose from employee projects. Other companies do innovation differently still. But there’s a sense that the business itself is an innovative community. That’s what binds the company together and gives it a common focus.
So, what can your business do to better leverage employee innovation? Check out these ideas.
Build An Innovation “Safe Space”
Science progresses fundamentally through conversation and community. Scientific journals are the formal aspect of the scientific community. But if you’ve ever read one of these journals, you’ll notice that there’s a lot of back and forth. Scientists write each other letters, describing their criticisms of each other’s work in an attempt to get closer to the truth. They do so at conferences too, albeit in a less formal manner.
It’s important to allow this cross-pollination of ideas among employees too. They should be able to meet face to face at some central location. And, there should be opportunities to meet people from outside the firm who can offer a different perspective.
Include The Views Of Others
One of the reasons why most of academia is so stale today is that it’s a monoculture. Almost everybody has the same scientific and political viewpoints. People who don’t are shunned. This is the type of culture you don’t want in your business. The problem with monocultures is that once they become established, they get embedded. It’s hard to change working practices once this happens. And new ideas that don’t fit the model are few and far between.
There are, however, apps like Vetter that help bring different ideas to the conversation. These apps are essentially online suggestion boxes where employees can speak freely about what matters to them. Often, they’re a great vehicle for getting different insights and perspectives on the company.
Once you’ve identified unspent talent in your organization, you’ll find that innovation grows. Leveraging your employees is actually one of the best ways to maximize the use of your resources.