Lack of Time for Innovation
This was the major barrier for most of our customers. This usually means that innovation goals are not a dedicated practice, but something that employees are expected to do in addition to their other existing responsibilities. Making space for experimental activities can have enormously positive consequences for new ideas – most famously Google’s 20% rule (employees spend 80% of their time on the job they were hired for but have freedom to spend 20% of their time on any other project they want) – after all gmail was a 20% time project originally. Can you make innovation someone’s dedicated role and can you give other employees more flexibility in their job description?
No Support from Senior Management for New Ideas
A passion for new ideas and a tolerance for risk starts at the top. Does senior leadership reward new bets and do they celebrate lessons learned from ideas that fail to launch? If you’ve got an innovation program at your company, but no one associates it with the company leadership it’s unlikely to be seen as a company mandate. So when you launch a program, make sure that your CEO or other leaders are part of your messaging strategy.
No Process for Managing Ideas and Testing Concepts
Maybe your leadership is totally bought in, maybe your team has the freedom to test and share new concepts… but if there’s no process to actually do so, it’s unlikely that those ideas will make it to launch. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest problems to solve. If you have some team members dedicated to continuous innovation, they can start by architecting an initial process and then iterate and improve that process over time.
No surprise that a lack of budget would be a barrier for innovation. New ideas need resources. If you’re not finding some room in the budget to prototype and learn, you’re not likely to keep pace with the changing market. We often recommend to our customers that they look for process improvement innovations that will save money first and then re-investing that savings into more experimental concepts in the next round.
Millennials expect a digital environment
In other words, if you want a millennial to know about it, it’s got to be available online somewhere. So if you’re expecting them to share and build ideas, there has to be an online suggestion box for them to do so.
Millennials love transparency
Millennials know the power of their own voice and they want to hear the voices of others. Instead of making decisions behind closed doors, find ways to communicate publicly. This might be an expectation that has been set by social media, but it also allows for more collaboration and force multiplication of support and resources.
Millennials don’t want to be put in a box.
If, in the past, employees were defined by their job description – millennials instead prefer for their job to defined their purpose. That means even if they work in marketing, they’d like the freedom to help folks in product, operations, and beyond. The barriers between departments are dissolving and that is allowing for more collaboration and diversity.
Millennials love the ability to move fast.
It’s not that they want to change everything. They want to test concepts and iterate – take what works and leave what’s already working as it is. So don’t change everything today, but try new ideas as soon as possible and then learn from them.
So how are you empowering millennial ideation at your organization?