Legendary chemist and inventor Humphry Davy published a substantial memoir in 1800. It was on the chemistry, physiology, and recreational use of nitrous oxide...otherwise known as laughing gas. A familiar statement stems from it; “Nitrous oxide… may probably be used with advantage during surgical operations”, because he realized the potential it had to destroy pain.
However, it took 40 years for the medical profession to take this theory seriously, and nitrous oxide was finally considered as an anesthetic for surgery. Patients suffered through surgery unnecessarily for decades, because the crossover of the initial idea failed to reach another group that could benefit from his innovative concept.
Does this happen within your business or organization?
Your Business Might be Stifling Innovation
When management systems create an atmosphere allowing communication only to be shared vertically, it’s referred to as an information silo, a familiar problem. It limits the brainstorming that could exist between various employees. Quite often, it results in information and ideas dying before they had a chance to take off. The employee loses the opportunity to contribute and help turn a valuable concept into reality. It can lead to various departments being more competitive, yet less productive. It’s stifling to most opportunities.
Information silos frequently stem from stringent data security requirements, or a lack of encouragement. Similar to Humphry Davy, many people within information silos don’t know where to go with their ideas.
“Research shows that we spend two orders of magnitude more time with people near our desk than with people more than 50 meters away.” - Rewriting the rules for the Digital Age, 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends
When a business grows, it’s the result of an idea put to action. However, if an employee goes beyond their daily expectations by developing a great idea, it will never come to fruition if sharing ideas is not encouraged.
Stifling ideas is only going to stifle growth, and it’s the responsibility of the organization to make sure that doesn’t happen. Instead, potential innovative ideas need to be nurtured. An appropriate and functional system providing the ability for each employee to freely share ideas is productive, and far less costly than the potential loss of never hearing the ideas.
Established companies such as Google, Amazon, Dropbox, along with the government of New South Wales, all have confidence in the power of incidental interdisciplinary revelation, as evidenced by the large scale investments that are being made. For example, 35 million dollars has been allocated by the New South Wales government to developing a hub to host up to 2,500 Sydney startups with the focus on encouraging collaboration. An entire floor has been devoted to community events.
Perhaps your company isn’t peppered with young, trendy mavericks who are always willing to share information on new trends. But, through a data management system, it can still institute the appropriate culture and environment that will encourage innovation.
Instituting the Appropriate Environment for Innovation
A complex SharePoint solution was recently made possible by an Australian manufacturing company. This enables employees of all departments to share ideas that could make or save money, as well as improve work systems. Submitted ideas are assessed and sorted by complexity. Next, the information is sent to recipients best suited to receive the information. Finally, dashboards, equipped with financial analyzing tools, present the potential generated costs and savings. The dashboards also help with:
1. Communicating and tracking long term value of ideas.
2. Prioritizing the utilization process of various ideas.
The company reports that this system has saved them millions of dollars in just a year, simply by providing and nurturing an environment to effectively share ideas. Through this system, employees are encouraged, supported, and even rewarded for sharing innovative ideas.
However, companies and organizations do not need such a complex system to stimulate innovation. Channels might already exist that are not yet being utilized.
There is significant potential for favorable change in organizations simply by opening up the ability to freely share ideas and information between all parties. Make sure that innovative concepts have a chance to bloom.