An engineer friend of mine works for a large, highly innovative company. You know the type of company I’m talking about: the kind that introduces new products, offers unique services, and establishes effective processes with remarkable consistency. The type of company whose employees are told over and over again, “You’re so lucky!”
Here’s the secret: luck has nothing to do with it. Innovative companies, like my friend’s company, take creativity very seriously. Innovation isn’t a result (for example, a successful product). It is a plan of action, a series of concrete activities — including false starts — just enough to lead to successful products.
For example, engineers at my friend’s company must set specific performance targets each quarter. Innovation points are an essential element of these targets. These innovation points are earned based on specific actions, including coming up with ideas, testing the concepts, taking the approved concept forward to the patent stage, and developing a marketable product. Coming up with an idea and presenting it to an innovation review team is worth a $200 bonus. If the idea goes forward beyond the initial concept, the employee earns $2,000. Not every idea is a winner, but the program stimulates enough profitable creativity to justify the investment.
This program got me thinking and searching. There are many public innovation awards, I wonder, how common are internal innovation awards? How much innovation would we see if more companies offered these programs?
Here are my questions for you:
- What are you already doing to inspire and reward innovation in your company?
- What might you begin doing now to encourage and reward innovation in your company?
Let’s work together. If you are looking to grow or get unstuck and cut the time to action to six months or less, there is no better time than now to contact me.
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