How ideation can help create inspiring company-wide initiatives

In this blog, we explore how ideation, implemented through a digital workplace platform, can help harness the collective knowledge of your workforce, spread innovative best practices across your organization, apply significant impact changes and bring everyone into the conversation.

Uncover innovative breakthroughs while engaging your people

With everyone tapping into the same pool of technologies, it seems like more and more companies have similar products and aims, with few genuinely unique initiatives. This situation leads digital transformation officers to push for more creative methods to stand out from the fierce competition, including facilitating and implementing ideation. Because unique initiatives, with company-wide support, can sometimes come from the most unexpected of sources.

A digital workplace platform, with powerful social networking tools, lets you create ideation experiences for your entire organization, facilitating a more inclusive workplace and fully harnessing your people's wealth of knowledge.

But what is ideation?

Initially, ideation was considered an early part of the design process and a step towards creating prototypes. Don Norman in d.school, An Introduction to Design Thinking PROCESS GUIDE, states that "Ideation is your chance to combine the understanding you have of the problem space and people you are designing for with your imagination to generate solution concepts." In other words, you're generating concepts to solve problems, such as combatting congestion and CO2 emissions by introducing a car-sharing initiative.

Ideation could also be said to be a method of applying lateral thinking. Edward de Bono, the originator of the term 'lateral thinking,' devised a way of introducing six hats for evaluation of different ideas or concepts. Six Thinking Hats involved six different colored hats, to mentally wear or switch, to help devise and take your ideation sessions to the next level. Examples include the Red Hat, which symbolizes feelings and intuitions, and the Green Hat, which focusses on creativity.

However, the best ideas and solutions don't always come from designers, executives, or visionaries. Ideation is now a fundamental way of engaging everyone in your organization, including your frontline workforce. Jing Zhou, from Rice University, states that "Service creativity allows employees to delight customers in unusual ways or solve problems that existing protocol falls short of addressing."

Ideation today is a powerful way of giving people a voice in your organization and the opportunity to influence decision making, including product development. So, in turn, we return to design methodology, because, in the end, everyone in your organization is helping to design, develop and apply initiatives and product features, taking your company and offerings in exciting new directions.

Bring your people into the conversation

According to Culture Amp, the majority of women in the workforce feel excluded from decision making and don't feel comfortable expressing their opinions. An excellent way of bringing all your people into the conversation is with ideation. By employing an ideation platform, or channel, you will create a stimulating and supportive environment in which your people can start to generate and share ideas and initiatives. 

Introducing an ideation platform is also an effective way of spotting gaps and eliminating silos in your organization. For instance, there may be an issue that your frontline is facing that the rest of your business is entirely unaware of. According to Sidney Yoshida, in his study, the Iceberg of Ignorance, employees know 100% of the frontline problems, while supervisors are only aware of 74% of issues and middle management just 9%. This gap in awareness shows that something is missing: communication, feedback, and engagement. Spotting and addressing a gap in the process can be a real gamechanger.

Ideation could be promoted on the homepage of your digital workplace platform. Your internal comms team could then introduce the new ideation platform and encourage everyone to get involved. Results and good news stories related to ideation would help to keep your people interested in the long term.

Top tip: Ideation can also be used as a way of incentivizing. For example, the idea with the most votes this quarter wins a holiday!

ideation communication

Help spread best practice

Being open with your people can go a long way towards making the workplace more engaging. As shown in our blog, 5 ways a digital workplace creates better leaders, openness and trust demonstrated by leadership are essential in establishing a positive and forward-thinking workforce. There is no better way of showing confidence than by empowering your people to devise and spread best practice initiatives. 

For example, your workforce may come up with an initiative of giving back to the community: one day a year, everybody in your organization would go out and volunteer in their local community. The instigator would add their idea to the ideation platform, and your organization could then vote. If the idea generates enough votes, it will move on to the final stage, implementation. 

The implementation stage is where your internal comms team first helps to spread the word about the initiatives and bring in senior leadership to congratulate and make matters official. You would then communicate on the next steps and keep everyone in the loop on the outcomes, thereby helping to create and then promote best practice initiatives. A platform that delivers employee engagement through internal communications in key to delivering this process.

Top tip: Ensure that your ideation platform lets you tag and categorize ideas so that your people can quickly discover new initiatives.

ideation best practice

Implement big impact changes 

Big impact changes mean significant savings and potentially new ways of working. It's then imperative to involve your people, like your frontline workforce, who may see from ground level precisely what is going and how to streamline processes. By using ideation first to generate and then implement big impact changes, you will know that your people fully support these proposed changes.

You could start by creating big impact changes in your ideation platform, like, for instance, a way of automating a costly manual process, and then, as previously, use crowdsourcing to back the best initiative. You could employ a voting mechanism or by having an internal currency to show their support. For example, everyone using your ideation platform would be given 10,000 Bright Points to spend on new initiatives.

Moreover, ideation can be used to take your offerings in new directions. Allowing your people to vote on product features and possible improvements mean that you're aligning with modern UX user-centered principles and creating a feedback loop. It also means that your people feel like they can make a real impact beyond their day-to-day roles.

Top tip: Ensure that your ideation platform lets you highlight estimated savings. This will make people stand up and take notice!

ideation implementing big impact changes

Are you looking to apply ideation in your digital workplace?

Chat to one of our ideation experts; they'll be happy to advise you on implementing ideation solutions in your digital workplace. 

 

Please note: Ideation will be available from Unily's Feature Store in 2020.

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