It seems that innovation is one of the biggest buzzwords of all time, but businesses are forgetting that it is supposed to be a team effort. With all the emphasis having been on accepting any individual ideas, it seems that the belief is now that it is something that individuals do by themselves as well. This is almost going back to the old fashioned linear top down approach, and everybody now knows that this doesn’t work! Thankfully, enterprise innovation software has made team working easier because everybody can communicate about the individual ideas. However, how do you make sure the right people actually use the software?
Enterprise Innovation Software and I-Agents
Did you know that in a recent report by Capgemini, it was revealed that 75% of all leaders and managers believe they work in an innovative culture, but just 37% of regular employees feel this as well? And it also revealed that only 7% of all businesses felt that new ideas could be tested and deployed. This means that there is still a significant disconnect in the workplace, and that is where I-agents should come in.
An I-agent, who can also be called innovation champion, intrapreneur, or innovation agent, are the people who advocate change, rather than simply talking about it. Finding them, however, can be quite difficult because they could be anywhere within the organization. Indeed, various television programs, including Undercover Boss, have shown that advocates can be found in the most surprising places. This makes identifying them a whole lot more difficult, unfortunately. However, there are some specific things to look for.
Mainly, you have to find the people who truly care. They care not just about the organization as it is, but also about its future and where it is going. But mainly, they care about innovation. They are the ones who come up with their own ideas, or who share the ideas of others because they genuinely believe that they could improve the status quo. If you find these people within your organization, you must support them by ensuring they have the tools and resources available to make change a reality. They need to know that they are appreciated and their role as I-agent is vital to the overall success of the organization. Doing so will motivate them to do even better as well, since the success of the organization is precisely what they care about.
At the same time, you must be careful to not return to the individualistic way of working. No man is an island, and the I-agent needs a team effort in order to make their visions a reality, or it would go back to a linear approach. So, I-agents must be educated, so they know how actions work. They must be engaged, supporting and motivating them throughout the organization. They must be empowered, giving them responsibility and ownership. But mainly, they have to be enabled. They must have the tools and resources, which includes the people, to achieve what they envision.