Digital Workplace Insights

Five ways the Intranet can support a culture of innovation

Industries are being transformed, the internet has accelerated our flat world and no product or service is safe from disruption. So how do you stay relevant a year from now, continue increasing your bottom line and excite customers into wanting to work with you?

Innovation is at the core of every successful business. Not everyone is building electric cars or delivering packages using drones. For most of us the process of innovation will be how we improve an existing product or service so we increase our value proposition. But how do you get everyone in the organization thinking like Elon Musk? You can’t, but you can improve the way people communicate, share and learn in context to the products or services you are offering.

Consider the average startup. Most of us picture a small collection of twenty somethings working tirelessly on making an idea come to life. There is no corporate structure, little to no management meetings and report writing to justify decisions. Every team member in the startup understands the vision, what’s required and how to communicate with each other. They operate with an open culture focused on creating something unique. Big business is adopting this lean startup thinking into their core operations and are probably better at entrepreneurship than startups based on the simple premise that it’s much easier to scale an existing business than start from scratch.

For technically oriented teams, chat apps like Slack and HipChat connect people through threaded discussions and hashtags. These collaboration platforms power more than just chat, and allow teams to connect with other cloud based productivity apps centered around software and web development. The idea of using the incumbent Intranet to foster this type of collaboration is the reason why these new apps have emerged with such force. But not every organization is going to find the answer to building a culture of innovation using these apps.

Innovation is at the core of every successful business. How do you get everyone in the organization thinking like Elon Musk? You improve the way people communicate, share and learn in context to the products or services you are offering.

The intranet is a common platform for all teams inside your organization. Innovative organizations build integrated teams that focus on working together to forge new processes and give rise to new ideas, rather than on disconnected departments where a product or service is shunted from one group to another. Innovative organizations are constantly considering and executing on the following:

Put the customer at the center

Every business has customers, and understanding what compels these customers to buy the products or services from you will enable everyone to be thinking about how to improve that journey and experience.

Every team member should be given the opportunity to interact with customers, as this first-hand experience may trigger new ways of engaging, managing and supporting the customer that weren’t previously recognized.

Insights and lessons learnt should be shared openly via the Intranet, and this process for supporting product or service design needs to be more than a skunkworks project that is worked on for a few months, and then abandoned because a critical incident occurred and required all hands-on deck. It needs to be an ongoing effort, and publicizing this effort via the Intranet will be a clarion call to the entire organization.

Listen, learn and adapt

It starts with a simple discussion forum, and then it becomes an email thread and now its building a community of best practice. Intranets have been at the cornerstone of enabling teams to openly discuss ideas around servicing and supporting customers. Leaders need to listen and learn about what team members think of how the business is performing. The whole organization then needs to consider how it adapts to these ideas for the benefit of the customer and the organization.

Remove silos and remain open

Operationally, it may be difficult to interact with everyone in the organization. Having face to face discussions with team members from across the business is fundamental in supporting a culture of innovation. Business leaders should be engaging with team members through the Intranet. There should be no hierarchies of influence between the CEO and the part-time customer support manager, who may just have an idea for increasing customer satisfaction.

Embrace failure and foster support

The Intranet provides a platform for experimentation, where participants can take part in the process of ideation, planning and execution. If the planned outcome isn’t success, the value of enabling your team to be exposed to the process can be priceless. Innovative organizations learn from failing and support those who make the attempt. It is through failure that extraordinary success is possible.

Support employees choosing their own tools

Work has moved from the desktop to mobile and team members will use a combination of apps on their phone or tablet to collaborate with. Innovative organizations will support this shift as it encourages staff to get on with the process of innovation, rather than forcing them to use outdated and broken applications that hinder collaboration. Social Intranet platforms provide the ability for organizations to introduce a platform that connects with many of these third-party apps that your teams are already using.

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