Experienced leaders in innovation find that it is literally an impossible task to police innovation. A much more practical strategy is to let ideas stand or fall on their relative merits (in terms of cost and time savings or customer satisfaction improvements and alignment with mission critical goals like mobility, safety or preservation) rather than try to judge every idea and say no to some, which shuts down innovation. Aim to offer constructive criticism that rewards outside the box thinking and helps to enhance the ideas that come forward.
- Avoid Micromanaging the Innovation Process – ITD very specifically seeks to take innovation out of the ivory tower. Initially, ITD’s Innovation Team would attempt to review and accept or reject all innovation ideas, Employees at every level in ITD, however, are constantly encouraged to submit their ideas and this results in hundreds of ideas annually. The process of choosing which ideas to pursue is now based primarily on proof of whether they generate time and money savings or make processes more customer-friendly at ITD. When an employee submits an idea through the Innovate ITD SharePoint site, the Innovation Team simply acknowledges the idea was submitted. It is the responsibility of the individual who submitted the idea to coordinate with other staff who will be impacted by the idea to determine if it is aligned with the ITD mission, and whether implementing it will generate cost, time, or customer benefits. Innovation stewards and managers are strongly encouraged to reach out to staff who submit ideas to assist with evaluation and implementation.
- Show action on proposals to keep momentum – When employees develop ideas for how to solve challenges, leaders must acknowledge and act on the ideas to ensure they are implemented. Employees will lose interest quickly if no action results from their proposals for innovation. In general, the innovation culture at Google is thrives in part because managers and leaders learn to say “yes, and …” to their teams rather than “no” or “but.” This response to new ideas encourages employees to keep bringing new ideas forward and helps them fine tune ideas to best meet challenges.