This week we caught up with Craig Barnard from Nectir Innovation on his thoughts on the role, importance, and future of innovation. We dive into the challenges facing businesses as they introduce innovation and his top tips for those embarking on an innovation journey.
Q. Why is it important to collect ideas from the entire team and beyond?
A. Executive teams don’t always have all the answers to the challenges a business faces, nor an awareness of all the opportunities available. In fact, many of the answers lie within the broader team and even our customers. An executive’s role is not to have all the ideas but instead, to create a path for those ideas to come to life. Each team member and customer have a unique perspective and insight into how products or processes work. By unlocking this potential, leaders can more quickly respond to immediate issues and opportunities.
Tools like Nectir are designed to be an accessible, “always-on” idea collector - because sometimes the best ideas come to us when we are not in the office! By collecting ideas in one, central place you can eliminate loss, overlap and maintain consistency by moving ideas through an effective process.
Q. What is the best way to create innovation?
A. The best way to create innovation is by leveraging the diversity of thoughts and insights, creating a safe place for people to put ideas forward and having a process for testing them out. At Nectir we provide the tools and support for taking businesses through the stages of innovation, from idea generation to implementation.
Q. What are some common mistakes business make when trying to innovate?
A. Ah, so many. Many well-intentioned businesses do a good job at collecting ideas, but after that the process typically falls apart. There can be a few reasons for this early failure.
The most common reason is that team members feel disengaged because they don’t feel their ideas have been acknowledged. People often feel quite passionately about their ideas. When they raise an idea and hear no feedback, they can easily become disengaged. Worse still, if this becomes a pattern, team members will see no value in contributing to the innovation process.
This issue underlines the importance of community engagement in the journey to become a more innovative business. However, it is unrealistic to expect one individual from the leadership team to provide feedback on all the potentially hundreds or even thousands of ideas that their team is generating.
The Nectir platform is designed specifically to provide all important feedback immediately and constructively in the form of collaborative channels. By engaging team members within a gamified context, individuals feel more encouraged, supported and motivated to contribute their ideas
Q. How do we know if our attempts to innovate are working?
A. Innovation is not as elusive and difficult to measure as some people have been led to believe.
Like anything else in a workplace, such as productivity or sales, we simply need to measure what is happening at an individual, departmental and company-wide level. However, few organisations have a system for measuring the effects of their strategic intent.
At Nectir we allow businesses to measure how active individuals are in the innovation process, how many ideas they have submitted, how many challenges they are participating in and how much support they are giving to others. Now leaders can sit down with individuals and know exactly how they are contributing. We contribution levels are high; this will be accompanied by a high level of innovation.
Measuring contribution is the critical first stage in knowing whether or not our attempts to innovate are successfully.
Q. What would you recommend leaders do first to start an innovation program
A. If you’re serious about innovation, you need to commit to making it a part of your workplace and put an appropriate process in place to support it.
Of course, having a software platform such as Nectir, will make the effort you put in infinitely more impactful. When you break innovation down to its core steps: collecting a handful of ideas, following a best practice process for bringing them to life and measuring the results you get – you’ll find that innovation is a far less intimidating process. From there you can scale it up and start to see some big results!