Larger organizations often define objectives and measures that in turn drive the creation of corporate initiatives throughout the organization. As the strategic plan solidifies, the various levels of leadership take responsibility for executing on the initiatives that intersect with their areas of ownership.
Some initiatives are clear cut and require normal project controls and capabilities. Other strategic initiatives involve changing products, services, behaviors or culture and require ideation and innovation to accomplish. Internal Communicators need to be prepared to support these types of initiatives – not just through one-way communications but also through collaborative ideation and innovation. In doing so, Internal Communicators become indispensable in executing these types of strategic initiatives.
If you are a business leader in an executive, communications or HR role, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that your employees may be the very best source of ideas to improve your decision making and create innovative products and services. As leaders, we get busy in the creation of strategies and initiatives and the temptation is to start making decisions before your employees truly weigh in. After all, your employees are the closest to the key business processes and activities that are driving organizational success (or failure). Is your leadership team taking advantage of this reality when supporting strategic initiatives?
Innovation is critical
Much has been said about the role of innovation in the growth of successful companies. Never has it been more critical to continue to change with the market conditions and opportunities. I feel that smart companies are innovating on three distinct fronts:
- New products and services
- More efficient business processes
- Employee engagement (alignment, belonging, commitment and growth)
Corporate Communicators can add value to the organization by having a suite of tools and processes in place to assist with strategic initiatives. Important questions to ask:
- Does this strategic initiative benefit from new innovation?
- Are employees the best source of innovation for this initiative? If not, who is?
- Do we have an efficient way of collecting ideas?
- Do we have a plan to turn the best ideas into projects that lead to innovation?
There are many idea-lifecycle management (ILM) tools on the market, and if you’ve invested in Office 365, you may have some ideation tools at your disposal that you were unaware you had. Office 365 has a set of tools that can be configured to support simple idea campaigns. You can do something as simple a list that users can submit to or a community site that takes advantage of badging and other capabilities to make the experience more rewarding, to creating a simple customized solution that provides a more intuitive user experience around submission, ranking, and promotion. We have developed ideation solutions for clients that are available on mobile devices but collect the ideas in SharePoint for evaluation and processing. However you approach simple idea campaigns, remember: gathering the ideas is only the first (and often easiest) step — to create innovation you need to have a plan for evaluating and implementing good ideas with good projects.
Complex idea campaigns are likely better supported with a tools designed for ideation. There are many available on the marketing including an upcoming campaign management product from ElevatePoint.