The box overflows

The Rise of Innovation Communities

Class started up again yesterday, and we have a weekly assignment to complete a point paper (a one page outline) of an article from the The Wall Street Journal. I chose one titled Who has innovative ideas? Employees.

The idea in this article is that employees from all functions and ranks within a company can form innovation communities to come up with…you guessed it…innovations!  The trick is in getting everyone enthusiastically and voluntarily involved.

But how to do that when many employees of many companies are too afraid to voice their ideas and opinions? Employees also may not want to give away all of their ideas to a company for little or no real rewards.

One of the key characteristics of an innovative community is that it creates a space for innovation.  It creates a central meeting space where participants can safely go to discuss and exchange ideas with senior management. Employees would thus feel safe to innovate.

Now, while I think this meeting space is a good start, it doesn’t go far enough. Are participants supposed to leave innovation at the meeting room door as they exit and return to their regular duties? Innovation needs to permeate the entire corporate culture and not be limited to specific times and places. Employees need to feel safe to freely express themselves and their ideas at all times.

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