A Lean, Mean, Innovation Machine!

Want to increase innovation? Employee engagement? Lower turnover and create a work force that is focused on solving problems? Jag Randhawa tells us how in his new book, The Bright Idea Box: A Proven System to Drive Employee Engagement.

If you only have time to read one book and your business needs a booster shot for innovation and engagement, this is the book you need. 

idea.jpg

This photo was shared under the Creative Commons Attribution License and has been taken from Tsahi Levent-Levi’s Flickr photo stream

It’s a lean book that is easy to read. It has just enough information for anyone to understand why building a bottom up innovation program is important, how to get buy in, how to implement the program and ensure its success! Better yet, it can be done with a smallest of budgets. 

I’ve read a ton of books on innovation and employee engagement but this is the first one that ties it all together and gives us a plan to make it happen in our businesses. 

This is a “how to” book with just enough theory to get the innovation program going. 

I work for an internet marketing startup and I knew after reading the first chapter that I was going to use the information in this book to inject innovation into our teams DNA. I’m going to create innovation trainings in conjunction with our Bright Idea Box Program, based on this book and my other research, books like: Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson, and The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work by Theresa Amabile and Steven Kramer

The book is written in 3 parts:

Part One - The Innovation

Part Two - The Program

Part Three - The Engagement

Jag breaks down business innovation into 4 categories: 

Revenue Generation 

Cost Reduction 

Business Process

Business Model.

“The results of innovation can emerge as a new or improved product, a new management strategy, lowered cost, added convenience for customers, or selling existing products in new ways or to new markets,” says Jag. Great! When my team talks about innovation it normally pertains to new products, new niches or new marketing ideas. We overlook some the places that have huge potential, like improving business processes. 

Things like business processes and adding value for customers often get overlooked because they’re not sexy. 

How much better would things work if everyone was thinking about improving the way we work instead of just the people who’s job it is? Reframing innovation like this is hugely helpful. 

Taking advantage of research in neuroscience, Jag uses chunking to help us to remember the steps necessary to implement our innovation program using the acronym MASTER:

Mobilize- Get people involved

Amass- Collect Ideas

Support- Assuring commitment

Triage- Screen Ideas

Execute- Implement Ideas

Recognize- Recognize team members  

Jag says, “Innovation = Invention + Execution + Adoption” in other words ideas without implementations are like seeds that get planted but never watered and tended to. It’s not enough to have good or even great ideas. They have to be captured, evaluated and if they are worthy, implemented.

The author shows us how to get buy in from executives, managers and team members. He suggests we should hire partners not employees. This is crucial for maximizing team engagement. 

Question: In a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what’s the difference between the Chicken and the Pig?

Answer: The Chicken is involved, but the Pig is committed!

One of the best ways to engage team members is to raise their level of commitment. Be the pig! Be committed. When people are empowered and supported to make potentially staggering contributions to the success of the company, they are much more likely to be committed.  

The author also gives us a great way to filter out ideas that don’t add value to the business, when an idea is submitted 4 questions must be answered: 

1. What is the name of the idea:

2. Description:

3. Benefits:

4. Cost-Benefit Rationale:

The first two are no brainers, the third one is necessary and the last one is gold! Requiring your team to answer these questions makes them think their idea through and sends half-baked ideas back for more development. Anyone who participates in the program will learn how to do cost/benefit analysis. In other words they will learn to think like business owners!

This is easily the best business book I’ve read in the last year. If your team is lacking in engagement, like 74% of employees in the United States and innovation is something they hear mentioned in the news, you might want to give this book a read and put it’s ideas to good use.