Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Innovative Expressions Need to be Shared

Why are employee ideas overlooked without a forum to capture them? How do we promote thinking outside the box or bun, and how do we implement informed, educated risk taking? Why do organizations reinvent the wheel when they can benchmark off each other’s innovative ideas? Quit sitting on the box with your bun. Have you ever noticed that the same great ideas tend to be created in multiple departments? How much waste is there when teams don’t communicate and share what they are doing? Partner, we are all on the same team. How do we capture these ideas, implement them, retain them, and recognize our employees for thinking outside the box?

Just because you are doing something correct today, doesn't mean it will be correct tomorrow. Do you remember the Titanic? The unsinkable ship didn’t live up to its name. Challenging paradigms and the status quo should be embraced and recognized by all. “Don’t worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try” (The Wall Street Journal, 1986)

“Motivation is not something you give to people. They give it to themselves. You give them the reason to motivate themselves” (Anonymous). Using technology in existence today, we have an excellent opportunity to communicate and capitalize on an employee's innovativeness. The question then becomes, where do I put all the ideas? I recommend a Web page link from a company homepage, call it what you will, call it "Innovative Expressions." Let the page become a treasure chest of ideas waiting to be discovered. It will provide a forum to communicate and capture ideas. Every group is able to benchmark off another group's ideas. This opens up an avenue for successful knowledge sharing, not knowledge hoarding. Anonymity is necessary for those that do not want to bring light upon themselves.

At 3M, the company created an area to display ideas (inventions) for employees to place items that may or may not have developed into the inventor’s dream. 3M adopted a business philosophy of "there are no bad ideas." They recognize the timing and/or the know-how, may be off on implementation for some ideas. The idea may be too early for successful adoption into the organization or it may not meet current business needs. The idea may not meet business needs today, but it may be implemented as the missing ingredient in another need tomorrow. “Success is not a destination, it is a journey” (Anonymous).

Here is a novel idea; Create interactive, dynamic, intelligent, computer based programs to reduce the need for sustaining information. Even better, embrace a program already developed by another company - providing it meets the need of your business at much less the cost of development. For a business, time is money, anyway you slice it! Again, why reinvent the wheel? Initiate order from chaotic, unplanned website development. Enhance the employee's ability to access information at their fingertips and house similar information in one place, bucket it, if you will. If you as a developer can get information somewhere else (i.e., another department’s website), link to it, rather than creating your own content. Remember, it is not what you think an individual wants to see, it is what they are actually searching for that counts. Use website analytic data to delete content that no one searches on. Today, employees access information anytime, night or day. Work force performance is at risk if you do not continually develop new and improved ways. Don’t get stuck in a rut when it comes to innovation and progress.

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