Increasing employee innovation is easy! Just ask them for their ideas and implement the most cost effective options. The best and most effective way to do this is the World Café approach.
I have just returned from facilitating a 2-day World Café event for a global travel retailer in Milan. It was a fantastic experience. Hundreds of innovative ideas were generated and I know that the agreed actions (if implemented) will increase sales, decrease costs and increase profits. And the best bit – the implementation cost of the best ideas is zero!
The World Café is a process that harnesses the collective thinking of a group of diverse people on key organisational questions. There are 7 World Café principles but in my experience 3 of them are critical:
- Identify the questions that matter. It is worth spending time up front thinking about the right questions to ask. Limit these to the 4 or 5 questions that will move the strategic agenda forward. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult strategic questions. It’s amazing how well informed people working on the front-line are about the strategic agenda
- Invite the right people. The greater the diversity in terms of experience, levels of responsibility, functional expertise as well as skills and competence the better. Invite people who have an opinion and are prepared to challenge the status quo. Often those that are considered ‘awkward’ have the best ideas.
- Follow up on implementation. Not implementing the ideas generated is a disaster! Your credibility with participants will plummet and you won’t be able to ask them for their ideas again.
So, get the coffee out, pull up the chairs, ask the right questions, and get talking. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to innovate.