To a lot of people, innovation is a very fuzzy word. Sometimes it’s used to describe any kind of change, and I think it’s dangerous when we don’t take the time to define and put metrics to it to have clarity. You have to know when you’ve achieved the intended results.
Beyond a measurable goal, innovation is anything that adds value to a company. It may be a new product or service, but innovation flows most freely through companies where everyone can contribute meaningfully. Processes must be in place so that new offerings can be reviewed easily and their goals assessed for clear metrics—not simply to increase the bottom line but so that all employees actually understand what the company’s goals are.
Miami’s own future innovation depends on the same, very simple concept of having a culture of accountability and transparency. Companies that have adopted a culture of clarity have clear goals, numbers attached to those goals, and a commitment to providing feedback on their employees’ ideas—feedback that comes from a place of empowering their people to be creative and take chances.
One of the biggest tragedies of corporate America and innovation is that
there is, in many places, an emphasis on an isolated but super-cool innovation team that is the lone decider of whether an idea is good or bad. Other employees can submit ideas—often as experts in their area or department—but they are left without feedback on their ideas. Or if the super-cool innovation team decides to use the idea, it’s only about the idea, and they don’t engage the people through the validation or development process. One way to fix this is to have HR—which really should be Talent Resources —partner with the company’s CFO in order to invest in talent development, to establish short-, medium-, and long-term goals, and to document the resulting ROI not just in new revenue but in recruitment, retention, and dozens of engagement to productivity metrics across
You should see what happens when companies make it about the people in this way—when their own internal innovation programs reflect a commitment to empowering their employees and not just gathering ideas.
It enables their employees to develop opportunity recognition and to learn the skills to communicate new ideas with a full business case. The company’s goals shift from building good ideas to asking, “How can we develop our people to be able to build ideas and disrupt our own assumptions
When you make your people confident that they’re not going to be replaced when a new product or team is acquired, let alone with robots or automation, then everyone is more willing and able to promote new ideas and adopt new ways of doing things. Employees need to know that when they offer more value at a certain multiple than what they are paid, and help create a culture for growth, they will not be replaced. Employers need to reinforce that if an employee offers value aligned to strategy, then they’ll keep offering value in a new role. The employee—to everyone’s benefit—becomes an asset for the future.
Companies with clarity about their own strengths and weaknesses, with cultures that allow for greater transparency, are moving from simply buying up the best ideas to creating conditions to generate and execute valuable ideas internally. Many times, companies don’t prioritize knowledge-sharing and so their full, unique synergies across departments go untapped. They think they need to acquire another company that has an idea they like—but often the acquisition dissolves the atmosphere in which that idea was created and what made the new product successful (and a valuable acquisition target) in the first place.
As our community moves into 2020 and the next decade, I’m hoping that we can build these people-first systems for ourselves so that the world can see the true—and truly international—opportunities that Miami offers as the epicenter for solutions with unparalleled data and customer focus. With the diversity and global perspective the incredible talent in South Florida has we will be an unstoppable force!