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Janine Milne

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In a Nutshell: Five considerations to help boost staff innovation


Although a much over-used term, ‘innovation’ means to invent or apply new ideas, methods, approaches and the like.

Although it sounds simple enough, creating an environment in which employees feel empowered, engaged and trusting enough to let their creative juices flow freely is easier said than done.
So here Joris Luijke, vice president of HR and talent at Australian collaboration and development tools supplier, Atlassian, provides some hints and tips to help get it right:
1. Autonomy
Organisations should ideally give staff the freedom and autonomy to organise their own workloads. People should also be given time to think beyond the day-to-day.
One example of this is how we run our graduate and summer intern programmes. Participants here spend their first week in a beachfront mansion together, with the aim of developing new products or features. They then present their ideas to the rest of the company.
2. Small teams
If employees work as part of a large team, they may feel as if they only have a limited impact on what is delivered or produced. Smaller sub-teams can help people to feel as if they have more ownership and also mean that their ideas are more likely to implemented.
3. Transparency
Transparency and honesty are key to creating a culture of innovation. It’s important that personnel understand what each other are working on and feel able to share knowledge and ideas and give constructive feedback.
Using social collaboration platforms can be helpful in this context in order to provide employees with a platform to share innovative ideas that would otherwise go unnoticed.
4. Support
People need to understand how their ideas can contribute to the organisation’s success. This means that they have to believe in its overall purpose and values and also will be given suitable resources and backing if working on new ideas.
5. Framework for action
Creativity will thrive if you provide staff with a rough framework for action, which includes rules for behaviour. For example, we enable staff to take advantage of a 20% time allowance during the week to work on pet projects based around our products.
Every quarter, we subsequently run “hacking spurts” that culminate in everyone presenting their ideas to the whole company within a 24-hour period – even if they aren’t workable or ground-breaking. This scenario creates excitement and adds a healthy dose of pressure to ensure that everyone performs at their best.

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