By Rachel Taylor
Have you ever wondered what great ideas are available by harnessing the institutional knowledge of the experts in your company? Have you ever been part of a 40-email thread that had some good ideas, but you can’t be bothered to find them because you don’t want to read through 30 forwarded emails? If you don’t like searching through email threads for great ideas, neither do your employees. That’s why you’re going Google! Google for Work offers seamless collaboration so that ideas don’t get stuck in someone’s email archive and can be liberated to build even better ideas.
Innovation occurs when people have the opportunity to connect ideas and build on them. Creating opportunities depends on institutional structures that facilitate a space for people to connect with one another. It may not be a literal garage for dreaming up new ideas, but it can be leadership support, structured ways to discover and support ideas, and structured ways to prioritize ideas. Changing the structure of the way you receive and evaluate ideas can have a major impact on your future business.
Leadership and structured prioritization are embodied in a structured Innovation Council (also known as a Center of Excellence). You can get started with selecting the right members for your Innovation Council during the Google for Work deployment by:
Identifying the major stakeholders in Google for Work innovation
This includes representatives of major business functions, IT leadership, and administrative support functions. One of Google’s biggest customers invested in bringing in and retraining IT leadership and recruited Google Guides from the 4 lines of service. This company also made sure their administrative infrastructure had the first access to Google’s tools so that they could provide support to the lines of service.
Creating a council structure that maximizes the strengths of leaders who are ready to promote and nurture ideas
The Google Guide program can help you identify existing leaders in your employee communities. Look for the technology early adopters and the people who are natural organizers. When you can leverage existing social systems to engage people, you can nurture the power of natural networks to generate ideas.
When you do find natural leaders and innovators, give them time, space, and responsibility by giving them a place on the Innovation Council. You could execute this by reserving space on the council for periodic innovators as selected by their peers.
Creating a process for nurturing and prioritizing ideas from everyone in the company
When you create the structures for promoting innovation, it’s important to also create a structure for receiving and prioritizing innovation. You want to get a lot of ideas because not every idea will be great; because not every idea will be great, you’ll need to prioritize the ideas you work on.
One of the functions of the Innovation Council will be to review and prioritize ideas in alignment with the goals and business values of your company. That’s why leadership is so important; you need structural leaders to provide direction and discernment, and to enforce prioritization.
One of the best ways to get ideas is through contests! Ongoing innovation contests that cross business units can offer both opportunities and rewards for innovators in your company. Collect ideas and then review them at the Innovation Council.