How Are Companies Spurring Innovation? [Future of Work]

How Are Companies Spurring Innovation? [Future of Work]

As PSFK explores open ideation, we ask our readers to tell us how companies are inspiring employee creativity.

Wesley Robison
  • 8 september 2012

Where will the next big idea in your organization come from – the boardroom, the R&D department or the mail room?

In the midst of a struggling economy, innovation has never been more important to businesses. In an effort to get ahead of their competition and remain relevant to their customers, companies are directing more money and resources towards the pursuit of the next big thing, but just not in the way you might think. The crowdsourcing movement has shown that great ideas can come from anywhere, and business leaders are starting to take note. Stakeholders are pushing the rate of innovation forward in the hopes of profiting from new disruptive business models or creative products

As a result, they’re taking research and development out of the back rooms and basements and transforming it into company-wide initiatives instead, allowing their employees to dedicate at least some of their daily efforts to independent projects and internal collaborations. While classic R&D departments certainly have their merits, locking ideas away assumes that other departments aren’t solving problems of their own. What’s more, this segmentation can stifle creativity from these employees, which may lead them to take jobs at other companies or to start even their own – a system that is impacts more than just innovation.

Tech innovators like Google, who asks its employees to spend 20% of their time on creative projects, and Facebook who hosts hackathons to bootstrap new ideas, are a couple of examples of companies who are encouraging inspiration and opportunity while keeping the resulting ideas close at hand. Similarly, companies are looking to associate themselves with entrepreneurial incubators that are capable of churning out a steady stream of new ideas. The successful start-ups that emerge can be branded as off-shoots that maintain autonomy, while being less likely to pose a direct threat.

While this collective approach may lead to more misses, the net effect is an increase the overall creativity of organization. And because the success of any company can’t be measured by a single great idea, an inspired and energized workforce continuously working to top what came before is the real innovation.

Check out some examples we’ve found of companies fueling new ideas inside and outside their walls.

New Hire Handbook Encourages Employees To Work Without A Boss

Microsoft’s Bing Fund Seeks Problem-Solving Startups Who Dream Big

Accounting Firm Hosts $100K Contest For Big Ideas

PSFK is asking readers to tell us how your employer is encouraging you to bring your ideas to the table. Is it free coffee and doughnuts or a half day to pursue your own interests? Drop us a line and tell us what ways companies are encouraging their employees to champion their own ideas.

Tweet us at @psfk with the hashtags #FoW #OpenIdeas, for a chance to win 5lbs of coffee to get your ideas started everyday.

Over the next 4-8 weeks we want to start a conversation around what you see as possible in the Future of Work.  Be sure to follow the conversation on PSFK and participate in the daily competitions. Tweet us your ideas to @psfk using #FoW.


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