An Innovator’s Necessity: Getting Employees Out of the Box

people in org chart boxesYou don’t think of your employees as a crowd because you have organized them into neat little boxes which fit into larger boxes which interact laterally with other boxes through a few leaders who own the box into which the other boxes fit.  And while that gives us a sense of order and control, what have we lost and how do we get it back?

You and your colleagues are in your box because you have a set of skills and a common focus.  But you have other skills.  You have other interests and passions.  Still, does anyone know about them?  Does anyone in your box or another have a means of engaging you to leverage those skills, interests and passions?

Disengaged worker

Engagement:

The Towers Watson 2012 Global Workforce Study would suggest the answer is “no”.  According to the study, only 35% of employees are highly engaged.  Meanwhile, the 2012 Gallup Meta-Analysis found that companies with high employee engagement significantly outperform those with low engagement realizing 21% higher productivity, 22% higher profitability, 41% fewer defects and 25% to 65% lower turnover.

 So why don’t companies engage their employees?  Among the variety of reasons, one would have to be, because it takes time and effort.  If we engage  employees in solving problems or addressing opportunities, leaders have to filter through the good, bad and mediocre ideas alike to get to the brilliant because no one is brilliant all of the time.

Crowd Sourcing Innovation:
The good news is, the crowd of employees is very good at knowing brilliance when they see it.  They are very good at collaborating and making the good ideas great.  They are great at voting so that the ideas which become brilliant can come to the attention of leadership.  Fortunately today there are tools that enable us to engage employees at scale without the time and effort that would otherwise overwhelm leadership.

Idea Management Systems:
Douglas C. Engelbart’s prophetic 1992 paper “Toward High-Performance Organizations” spoke to the “strategic role for GroupWare”  in “achieving tomorrow’s high-performance organizations.”  Today, notable in this set of GroupWare is the Idea Management System (IMS).  An IMS enables an enterprise to engage employees in an on-line space for collaboration where  employees are challenged to solve the problems and address the opportunities of the enterprise.  The crowd of employees work free of their boxes bringing their unique skills, judgement, expertise and passion to act as a collectively intelligent enterprise.    They create value for the enterprise and customers while creating career opportunities for themselves.

If you want to learn more, Contact Us and follow me on Twitter at Ed Boze @IdeationNation.