Christy Johnson shares useful tips on how to inspire innovation in remote employees.
Generating innovation from employees is a big challenge, but also a big area of focus, with many companies actively experimenting on how to best define, inspire, and leverage innovative ideas from their teams. Generating innovative ideas from teams who are remote, though, is an even bigger challenge, given that some of the common tactics for igniting innovation work differently in a remote environment. Given the rise of telecommuting workers, especially as of late with global health in view, it’s a challenge companies need to consider if they want unleash innovation in their remote workforce.
Here are three tips for inspiring innovation in remote teams:
- Recognize good ideas, even if they’re hard to see (especially from afar). In a well-known Harvard Business Review article, David Burkus argues that innovation isn’t an “idea” problem, but rather a recognition problem; in other words, it’s not that companies need more ideas, it’s just that they need to recognize the ones their teams are already giving to them. “Spotting” these ideas is especially tricky in a virtual environment, where communication can be murky, choppy, or even muffled. Burkus cites research in which “idea markets,” where employees are given money (real or fake) to invest in ideas, generated by their colleagues; over time, people can work on these ideas, and the value of these ideas can then go up or down, leading to changes in investment patterns. Similarly, other firms have started breakthrough funds, innovation challenges, or even “hackathons” to corral employees in a structured way of elevating and then investing in their peers’ best ideas. Some of these strategies are ready-made for remote teams, such as a virtual “idea market” where employees can invest in their peers’ ideas online; others, like an in-person hackathon, might require some more creative tech-based solutions (e.g., video conferencing) or even an ad hoc in-person meeting for remote employees to come together for an “idea sprint.”
In a virtual environment, where nonverbal cues are harder to spot, active listening becomes even more important for managers.
Key points include:
- Idea sprints
- Active listening
- Design thinking
Read the full article, 3 Tips for Inspiring Innovation on Remote Teams, on Linkedin.