Innovation Inside

There has been a lot of recent innobuzz  about crowd-sourcing and looking outside for innovation. Both techniques have their place in idea generation, but what about the people who know your products the best? You know, your employees. Now, I am not saying you need to launch an innovation center like Bayer is to come up with the next big idea (albeit if you can, go for it), but rather think about ways you can grow or enhance your business from within.

The following are some companies who have successfully looked inside to innovate:

  • Southwest Airlines: Southwest is using an idea management software tool to capture their employee’s ideas on improving and bettering processes. This web-based  ideation tool allows employees in different geographic locations and of different levels to share ideas and work together to problem solve.  Bringing internal minds together has enabled Southwest to improve internal processes and create efficiencies.
  • Intuit: Intuit gives their employees 10% of unstructured time during their workweek (Google does something similar). During this time, Intuit employees are allowed to collaborate with others in order to develop new ideas. Viable products such as viewmypaycheck.intuit.com are results of such unstructured time.
  • TSA: Yes, even the Transportation Security Authority looks inside to innovate. The TSA created an internal website where employees can suggest ideas such as  ways to  improve the security line process and provide better customer service. Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, wrote an article about this in the Huffington Post and gave the following example as to how the TSA’s internal innovation program is working:

Newmark stated:One of their earliest, and to date, best ideas, has to do with getting people through airport security lines faster.”

This “best idea” Newmark refers to is the Diamond Self Select Program. Like the symbols on a ski mountain, the black diamond is for the experience traveler and the blue diamond is for the casual traveler. The designation of the Green Circle Family/Special Needs Lane is for Families with small children, or those who simply need a bit more time getting through security.

As you can see, there are many unique and interesting ways to harness innovation within your company. Some ideas may directly improve the bottom line while others may improve the customer experience.

How are you innovating inside?  Please share in our comments section.

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