Good ideas are hiding everywhere. You just have to know where to look. Often these ideas can be found more easily as you might think, you might just have to look in your own company. Every employee has a broad technical knowledge, experience and knows the company. Optimal conditions for a brilliant flash of genius that takes the company a step further into the future.
But why is this valuable source of ideas so rarely used? Especially large companies are faced with the challenge of not only collecting the ideas of their employees but also making them usable. Missing internal structures are then replaced by external consulting. Although an external view is certainly not a wrong approach (keyword: operational blindness), external suggestions can never be as well tailored to the structures and processes of an organization as internal suggestions.
Our experience shows that innovation with employees forms the core of modern innovation management. In the course of digitalization, internal networking and collaboration is not only possible across departments, but even across national borders. Digital tools facilitate structuring the cumulative expertise and make it available to the company in order to keep up in a rapidly changing world.
innosabi customers rely on the ideas of their employees. With newly established structures, they promote internal innovation management. They use methods such as internal Crowdfunding, Solution Scouting and collaboration to generate new ideas, prioritize them and network knowledge. However, the big goal is not to create one idea but to create and anchor an innovation culture in the company.
Siemens: Using Internal Crowdfunding to Pave the Way to Ownership Culture
“One idea alone doesn’t make an innovation.” Christian Homma, Senior Innovation Manager at Siemens AG, summarizes with this sentence one of the great challenges in innovation management. The company’s internal program Siemens Quickstarter pursues several goals at once, says Christian Homma: “On the one hand, we want to give disruptive ideas a chance to be implemented. Then, of course, we want to change the corporate culture: We want ownership culture. The goal is to encourage intrapreneurs in the company to stand up for their own ideas and then implement them.”
Siemens uses the innosabi software for innovation funding, i.e. internal crowdfunding campaigns. That way, all employees assume more responsibility for the future of the company. Either through their own innovation projects or the distribution of budgets. Christian Homma and his colleague Christoph Krois explain how this can be achieved in practice in the video below.
Bayer: Interlinking Knowledge in a Global Company
Global companies like Bayer need global structures to drive innovation. This is precisely the goal of the company’s innovation initiatives – to establish organizational structures and processes to ensure that innovation is sustainably anchored in the company’s culture. To further promote the transformation of innovation culture, it is necessary to strengthen bridges between employees, departments, countries and continents. Employees must have a chance of contributing to innovation processes across the Group, regardless of language, location, hierarchical level or area of expertise. The technical foundation is laid with the Bayer WeSolve digital in-house platform.
In 2014 Bayer AG has built with WeSolve the technological base for agile networks for innovation. The methodical basis for the projects on WeSolve is, among other things, the principle of Solution Scouting. The platform offers employees the opportunity to submit problems or specialist challenges and motivates them to “contribute to solutions for specific technical or commercial problems” (source: hbr.org).
For example, a submitted Challenge is made accessible to all employees or can be sent by using targeted search only to employees with particular expertise. They can then submit or discuss solutions. In this way, knowledge is efficiently shared within an organization and the appropriate people are connected with each other. Therefore, synergies are created between the more than 100,000 employees and problems do not have to be solved many times over.
Its success proves Bayer WeSolve’s “business experiment” right. In the first year, the number of users of the platform more than quadrupled. But the company does not only use Bayer WeSolve for a sustainable innovation culture. They rely on an informal network of innovation ambassadors and innovation trainers. In this way, innovation becomes part of the corporate culture.
Daimler: Combining Online and Offline Methods for Innovation
“We have a special feature that we use in our Challenges: the combination of offline and online.” This is how Frieder Munk of Daimler Digital Life describes the development of innovation at Daimler AG. The DigitalLife Crowd Idea Platform is a key element by enabling all employees to participate in the innovation process.
Daimler uses the link between offline and online methods throughout the entire innovation process. New Challenges are often introduced with an analog event, the OpenSpace, in which 100 participants from various units work on a specific topic for one day. Resulting ideas are then published on the DigitalLife Crowd Ideas Platform and offered for voting or funding. The most promising ideas are selected by a vote of all employees, be it by likes or by the distribution of budgets. This already shows the close connection between the offline generation of ideas and the online prioritization of them. But this is not the end of the innovation process at Daimler. The selected ideas are then used for implementation in one of the company’s incubator programs, for example. The progress of the implementation can be tracked by all employees via the platform.
“The platform allows us to establish the necessary transparency into the implementation processes of innovations. Decisions are no longer made in secret, but employees have the opportunity to track what is happening with their own ideas at any time.”
Frieder Munk, Daimler AG
The aspect of collaboration also plays an essential role in the company. At the Daimler DigitalLife Days 2018, Frieder Munk emphasizes that the comment function on the platform is very popular with employees. This results in good, substantive discussions, which advance the ideas and from which the submitting teams can draw added value.
Our experience with customers such as Siemens, Bayer or Daimler shows that innovation with employees is and should be a central component in companies. The approach of making ideas visible, driving overarching collaboration forward and involving employees in decision making can be crucial to success. We have implemented this knowledge in the innosabi software and continue in this way to drive internal innovation.