Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Bottom-Up Innovation

Openness, transparency, collaboration, empowerment, respect, are all important perspectives for enforcing bottom-up innovation.

As business competitions get more cut-throat in the hyper-connected and always-on working environment. This puts stress on the workforce that is not conducive to more creative and experimental thinking and working. Digital innovation is the right mix of art and science. The science of innovation is to take a structural approach with the logical steps. The art of innovation is that it involves new ways of bringing together ideas and resources to create something novel. As now innovation more often happens at the intersection of people and technology, business and customers.  In fact, innovative solutions often come from the floor and not the ceiling. You need to allow a 'bottom-up' approach to make every employee the powerhouse of innovation and develop innovation as the differentiative business competency.

Break down the “conformity only” culture: In many overly rigid hierarchical working environment, the workplace is just too conforming to get others thinking differently; or too rigid to encourage different voice. The bottom line employees get used to taking the orders from their managers and “command and control” management style enforces the conformity culture. That is the opposite way of inspiring creativity. Being creative means you need to get used to stepping outside the old box into unfamiliar territory, you discover and explore the new path to do things. Innovators find more viewing spots than the rest. Innovation becomes possible only if people can keep their curiosity to ask the open-ended “Why, Why Not, What If” questions. Impatient with the status quo and believing there is always a better way to do things is a strong signal of having a creative workforce. In the real world, many breakthrough innovative ideas come from the bottom up. Thus, organizations should inspire creative thinking, independent thinking, dynamic thinking, encourage curiosity and growth mindset. Help people feel more comfortable with chaos, uncertainty, ambiguity, and risk-taking. Foster integrity, trust, and transparency to build a creative working environment. Either individually or as the team, learn how to do the 'basics' well, such as listening, asking questions, giving and receiving feedback, as well as dealing with conflict or even constructively advocating a point of view or building trusted relationships. A culture of innovation isn't built in a day; you can’t impose the desired culture to the organization. It’s important to recognize your innovators - lookout for curious people with a broad knowledge based, interdisciplinary understanding, bold vision and hands-on attitude. They are your change agents to rejuvenate culture and transform the bottom up employees to the innovation powerhouse.

Enforce inter-and intra- functional collaboration: Most good ideas emerge from interactions, not single individual spots in place. The powerful digital technologies including social collaboration and learning tools & platform, provide a loose structure for employees to connect, collaborate and generate bottoms up ideas, issues, and solutions; enable content creation, distribution, and consuming, co-creation and transformation of personal and group communication into content, generate ideas, enable social behaviors to take place online, endow these interactions with scale, speed and disruptive economics of the internet. Innovation is trans-disciplinary. The multidisciplinary knowledge helps the business professionals not only work in the box but also across the multiple boxes, in order to approach problems creatively and collectively. Thus, enforcing inter and intra-functional collaboration are important to generate ideas as well as open up those ideas for collaboration and bring valuable inputs to help new idea development. It also helps to achieve the maximum visibility of ideators & contributors and showcase success stories to help keep up the motivation level, starting new conversations that galvanize inspiration and gain traction on a powerful theme of innovation renewal and growth. The highly innovative organizations digitally connect key assets or context to the resource-rich innovation hubs and cluster across enterprise ecosystems to foster bottom-up innovation and amplify innovation effect.

The customer-centric innovations often come from the floor and not the ceiling: It will be easier to develop an innovative product in order to satisfy a need or shortcoming; rather than manipulating the whole environment and market so that you can define what the customer should need. To enable customer-centric innovation, assign the best team members in your first line of contact to get truly understand what customers’ needs are. Customers should always be involved, it is not a question of whether the customer is right or not, it is more of whether you are truly and proactively listening to their needs and gaining a deep understanding of the motivational construct of customers through empathy, and figure out what they will likely want next. The managers and employees should figure out how to frame the open-ended questions to get the best feedback from customers - the great feedback you wouldn’t have thought about or some great things the customers wouldn’t have thought about before. The bottom-up employees are often innovation champions because they have a good understanding of customers and appreciation of business processes, aware of organizational structures, they have the first-hand knowledge about how to make things working better. Point out that customer inquiries are not just support related, but can foster new and better ways to do things, continually spark fresh ideas and stimulate bottom-up innovations.

Innovation Management is an interdisciplinary management discipline which needs to weave many key business factors into an innovation playbook and experiment all different approaches and practices systematically. Openness, transparency, collaboration, empowerment, respect, are all important perspectives for enforcing bottom-up innovation. Organizations need to invest in the cultivation of capacity for innovation. Like many of other important business initiatives, innovation has to be managed via well-aligning talent people, robust, but not rigid processes, and the latest technology tools and platforms. At the core of innovation management is a customized business simulation, which lets participants experience the comprehensive business problems and opportunities associated with creating ideas and executing innovation at the company for developing innovation as invaluable activitiies and a cohesive business competency.


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Sonia Randhawa is Vice President of Product Management at Venture Motions where she leads all products and services for Enterprise related innovation programs. For example: Engineer, Engineering, Technology, Management, Leadership, Innovation, Products, Management, Programs, Projects. Please visit this site to get more information:
Sonia Randhawa

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