Employees are greatest asset for innovation

August 25, 2010

Behind every great company is a team of employees. These employees are in the trenches every day, they know your business inside out, and they’re putting in the effort required to keep things running smoothly and successfully.

So why would you turn to anyone else when it comes to brainstorming ways to grow your business?

The Wall Street Journal recently tackled this topic in an article about innovation communities — a group of employees assembled by senior management to brainstorm a new product, market or business process and then put those ideas to work.

Innovation communities are attractive because they can be created with little cost and because they involve people who know the most about your business. Compare that to consultants who simply have a bird’s eye view of things and often charge a lot for their advice.

The author suggests seven ways to create a successful innovation community:

Create the space to innovate. Schedule the initial meeting at your headquarters, but be open to allowing follow-up meetings to take place virtually or away from the office.

Get a broad variety of viewpoints. Employees with different roles and ranks will provide the most well-rounded feedback.

Create a conversation between senior management and participants. Everyone needs to be on the same page in order to implement new ideas and strategies.

Participants should want to be there. Make sure members of the innovation community are enthusiastic and willing to offer up ideas.

Tapping unused talent keeps costs low. No outside consultants are needed and productivity does not suffer.

There are additional benefits to innovation. Breeding a company culture that encourages the exchange of ideas can create a stronger bond among employees and lead to future collaborations.

Measure. Those involved must be able to prove the time spent was valuable. How many ideas were implemented and with what results?

Does this idea work for your business? Why or why not?

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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