Using Tools to help employees Innovate

To enable employees start thinking about what they are good at, any organization should enable the leaders with various tools and technologies. These should be deployed as a continuous process within the organization, not just a one-time exercise.

The first tool that needs to be institutionalized is one that gives information about all projects that are initiated by the organization. This will be web-based Project Management software, accessible on the intranet to all. Employees will have visibility on the new projects and have the option to express their interest to work on the program. Each project will have an initial Ramp-up Period by when the employees are expected to express their interest. Once the period closes, the Manager designated for the Project will take a decision on his team members. Projects can be initiated by employees also – not only the Managers. Like Google’s policy, employees should be given the option to utilize 20% of their time (roughly one day a week) for these individual projects. A designated Sponsor will approve the project
for further progress, based on the alignment with organization’s core values of entrepreneurship, solidarity and responsibility. This tool will help the employees know about the ongoing projects and participate in those that interest them.

The next tool ideally will be an internal Idea Junction. All employees will have the ability to write ideas on how the organization or they will benefit from. These ideas will have the visibility all the way to Senior Management. Other employees can comment/vote on these ideas so that the Management can select the best idea of the month and implement it. This gives the employees a sense of ownership within the organization. Another tool that can be implemented within the organization is that of a Knowledge-Base. Employees can ask questions and answer them, related to various topics. This tool will help those who are experts in their designated areas explain issues/queries to those who are still learning. Along the process, the tool will very soon become a hub of knowledge.

One can search through the tool and retrieve valuable information across diverse areas. Levels can be assigned to employees based on their answers or comments. Thus, they will transition from Amateurs to Knowledgeable to Experts based on their participation. This will give an added fillip to their standing within the organization and makes everyone aware of the skills that are available. This tool will help the organization on how they can make these available skills visible in the organization. It is quite surprising to look at the results when one reaps the benefits of such a tool implemented well.

There are a number of Open Source Software available on the Internet that can be utilized for these. One can easily install it with little effort and configure/customize to use it internally, reducing the associated costs to the minimum.

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