By David Dorf on Mar 18, 2013
I previously discussed the importance of establishing an innovation lab so that companies can keep up with emerging technology trends. But innovation doesn't just happen in the lab -- it works best when its part of the culture. Companies need to foster the free flow of information and ideas across the entire organization. There are many tools that help in this regard, including online forums, instant messaging, social networks, etc.
Take this example from Lowe's. An enterprising employee in the paint department of a store decided to demonstrate how a Teflon paint tray works by pouring in the paint, letting it dry, then peeling the paint out of the tray. She left the tray and paint mold on display, and soon she was sold out of Teflon trays. She described the incident on the company's internal forum and other stores began duplicating the display. Sales went from 2 units per week per store to 6 representing over a million dollars in additional revenue.
But you can't just expect communication to happen without a little push. To get the juices flowing, Do It Best has an annual education event they call Techapalooza (kicking off today) that has the following mission:
Provide education that will inspire the innovative use of technology to improve our supply chain efficiencies and to help our members grow - all while having fun.
They invite a variety of presenters to this regional conference that speak on varied topics such as Big Data, RFID, Google Apps, cloud deployments -- all for the benefit of their employees. This week-long conference is packed with engaging sessions and networking opportunities that get employees thinking about new ways to go about business.
Companies need to provide opportunities to learn, share, and collaborate through a combination of software and events. Internal conferences, science fairs, lunch-and-learn, online courses, social networks, etc. are great ways to engage employees and improve the way we work. It only takes a few good ideas to make a difference.