Deepa Sripathi, Head Human Resources, Konica Minolta India

Deepa is a senior HR professional with over two decades of work experience. She has held key leadership positions and contributed to several HR Transformation & change management initiatives. She has exposure of working in varied Hi Tech industries & also being a part of various global multicultural workforces. Deepa is a law graduate & also holds a graduate degree in Psychology, Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resources & Industrial Relations and Global Talent Management certifications from The Wharton Business School, USA.

 

Creativity and innovation are fostered by a positive work culture, continuous learning, inclusive & supportive collaboration across teams, units, and divisions. Innovation is faster when every team member knows about what their organization stands for and is inspired by its vision and values.

Just to share some of the top five initiatives & mindsets to help foster a culture of innovation:

1. Redesigning the workspace:

  • The more comfortable employees are in a open & dynamic workplace, the more adaptable & innovative your workforce becomes.
  • It helps to facilitate constant interaction between employees by creating open work spaces, collaborative zones, work café, breakout areas, green areas etc.
  • Expanding beyond their desk & increasing their outreach also expands their comfort zone & potential to ideate & adjust to the unknown.
  • As remote work has become a pandemic induced norm investing in cloud technologies and reinvented processes. Video chat, cloud collaboration platforms, instant messaging, secure file access etc support employees feel connected to come together & facilitate innovation virtually.

2. Hiring for Innovation & looking for innovative sparks in existing teams

  • Right at the recruitment stage if candidates are screened for creativity, new learnings, special projects done in their previous jobs or any out of box initiative introduced it can help organizations build a pool of innovation minded talent.
  • Work that matches an employees interest and which they find meaningful are sure to motivate them to be persistent, give feedbacks, participate in innovation.
  • In existing staff, Innovation Labs can be used to harness the existing innovative ideas as they are organizational innovation units or regional hubs where fresh ideas are sought, incubated & awarded.
  • Giving employees free time for passion projects with clear accountability. creating a culture where every employee feels he or she has some level of autonomy to think independently and develop a hackathon mindset to find new ways to solve problems.
  • Perpetuating an innovative culture is as much about listening, mentoring, trusting and empowering your teams to become ‘intrapreneurs’ as it is about anything else.

3. Open & honest communications channels:

  • Multi way communications facilitate idea exchange, coordination, and collaboration to innovate.
  • Also making it known that failing is part of the innovation journey so a trusting environment eliminates fear.
  • In many industries, “innovation” is the current buzzword, driven by digital transformation and disruption therefore, brainstorming and determining which of the 4Ps of innovation i.e Paradigm, Process, Position or Product innovation an organization wants to focus on may be more helpful.
  • If the innovation appetite of the organization is huge & its spread across various continents and geographies then all 4Ps can be tackled simultaneously by different workgroups.
  • Its also imperative for organizations to build systems to ensure all voices and ideas can be heard, valued and considered. Daily team meetings where small teams come together to review and address problems or challenges also facilitates innovation and problem solving.
  • As external environment is extremely dynamic and fast changing innovation even at the individual level through idea walls, focus group discussions etc should be encouraged.

4. Rewarding and recognizing innovation:

  • Institutionalizing improvement/Innovation awards such as Kaizen awards for project conducted successfully, Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning “change for the better” or “continuous improvement.” It is a Japanese business philosophy regarding the processes that continuously improve operations and involve all employees.
  • Through pitching contests wherein employees get to present their project work/ideas on a specific area of innovation identified in the company to senior management or a jury also prizes and awards motivate other employees and encourage them to think about innovations.
  • Offering raises and promotions to those who contribute innovative ideas, or verbally celebrating innovation efforts during a team meeting.

5. Removing the roadblocks:

  • Bureaucracy stifles innovation it not only creates long lag times and drives attrition that slows innovation down to the point of irrelevance, it demotivates innovators by putting hurdles in their way.
  • Great leaders of innovation see it as their job to eliminate bureaucracy and encourage continuous and rapid experimentation.
  • Digital transformation of processes and workflows helps breakdown the barriers to Innovation. It’s important to use simple frameworks, processes and methods for making innovation happen. Easy processes help manage the flow of ideas from conception to launch with least resistance faced by the innovator
  • The best processes are customer-centric – with specific stages that focus in on the customer as well as keeping the end customer at the heart of the innovation throughout.

True innovation is about ‘Rethinking’ & ‘Rebuilding’ on what already exists not about demolishing everything and starting afresh. Being prepared to adapt quickly to the new, unseen future is need of the hour and only companies which innovate and reinvent themselves can survive & thrive. Bringing innovation to life means giving it the time, space & resources to germinate, grow and bloom.

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