Which Companies Will Most Likely Die?

Choosing Between Internal and External Disruption

Every company strives for ‘innovation’, but across industries this word has been watered down due to its over-use and lack of definition. Working with clients of varying size and scale over the years, it’s no surprise to any that it’s innovate or die; however, many don’t have a clear idea of what that means to them and without a definition its hard to reverse engineer. In this regard, many companies are looking for the right thing in the wrong way, posing a threat to their existence.

The Paradox of Internal Innovation

Underneath the hood, innovation is the result of imagination, insight, and initiative, but I’ve found few internal practices that encourage their workforce at-large to play with these ingredients. Instead, I’ve seen companies invest large amounts to bring in outside consultancy; I know because I’ve been one of these consultants myself. You shouldn’t wait for outsiders to prompt imagination from your own workforce, brilliant ideas can be found right under your nose on the daily.

So herein lies the paradox: if imagination and initiative are at the crux of innovation, then why do companies employ systems and work-flows that limit it?

Opportunity for employee engagement, cost-cutting, and new product innovation is missed everyday due to lack of idea management. Based on our combined experience and research in the creation of Innervate, I’ll highlight a few cases for taking internal ideation seriously to encourage internal disruption.

Three Reasons to Encourage Internal Disruption

Your workforce is equipped with diverse interests, hobbies, social networks, families, and passion projects, so instead of a stringent work-life divide, employees should be encouraged to bring diverse ideas to the table. There is no shortage of thought-out ideas that are insight-driven and have legs; in the context of accelerating markets, it’s imperative to create more collaborative and open environments for innovation: give your workforce opportunity to disrupt your business before the competition does. And if the latter, then your workforce will migrate to that competition, creating a lose-lose situation.

Reason One: Increase Employee Engagement

Only 32% of employees in the United States are engaged, according to a Gallup poll. That means over two-thirds of employees nationwide are disengaged with their work.

Daily ideation allows opportunity to think like an intrapreneur instead of an employee, giving more ownership and vested interest the mission. A workspace that doesn’t encourage idea sharing and employee innovation usually isn’t too engaging; I’ll just take my pay check and go home. Space to share ideas and get them in front of the right people at the right time for actioning creates more value for your organization and more engagement for the people in it.

Have an easy-to-understand system for going from idea-to-initiative that fosters a more collaborative work environment, you’ll then start hearing some more interesting conversations buzzing around.

Reason Two: Your Frontline Experiences the Market First-Hand

“Companies can’t earn the loyalty of customers without first generating enthusiastic engagement and loyalty from employees, especially frontline employees.”
Fred Reichheld, creator of the Net Promoter System

Different roles see things from different angles; don’t limit your company’s potential by leaving innovation to a handful of people. Have an open environment that allows those closest to the market a chance to provide their input. I’ve ran many of ideation and design-thinking sessions with companies and can say with certainty that the ideas are there given the prompt to share them. With a need to be more agile in the context of a fast-moving world, companies must be willing to create conditions for ideas to thrive from employees at all levels.

Allow ultimate permission for your frontline to apply direct insights from their role into ideas that improve your organization and its offerings.

Reason Three: Pace of External Change is Accelerating

“The consumer and retail industry will change more over the next 20 years than over the last 200 years. We have never lived in such exciting times. It is at times like these that we will recognize the true leaders and innovators.”
— Roland Siegers, Executive Director, CEMS

Outside the office, the world is changing faster than ever and companies will fall behind and short-sell the potential within if they don’t acknowledge the everyday innovators sitting right next to them. At macro, meso, and market levels every industry is transforming; trends and early indicators from seemingly distant places can open up the most ripe innovation pathways. With that, your company is a collection of people that have a wide variety roles, interests and lifestyles that span the gamut, so leveraging this diversity to keep up with change is imperative.

Encourage the crossover of your employee’s outside knowledge to generate fresh, quality ideas. Some of the best innovations are found in the least obvious places, so placing any boundaries on what employees can bring to the table has a rather high opportunity cost.

Well, what should you do?

I’ll safely assume three things: you don’t to die, you don’t want to pay heaps of money to bring out ideas that could exist internally, and you don’t want to defer from your core business to design, build, and maintain your own idea management system. Well, that’s why we’ve put our heads together and co-created Innervate based on real insights from our experience as employees and consultants as well as primary research with the likes of AirBnb, AlphaSights, General Assembly, Facebook, Vice etc.

Companies and individuals don’t want more standalone apps. Doing more with less keeps things efficient, so as more companies use Slack as their preferred workspace, we built an easy and effective Slack app with an attached web interface designed to stimulate new ideas amongst your workforce, open them up for endorsement and initiative amongst colleagues, and prioritize into actionable, digestible bites for company decision makers.

Sign up to our waitlist and get notified once you’re able to install Innervate into your Slack workspace in early October. Change is inevitable, and every day companies have the choice of whether they shape change or become shaped by change. We want to help make that decision a bit easier.