June 24, 2011 Digital meeting places are one of the initiatives that can provide more innovative workplaces, according to new study.
Commissioned by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the social research team at International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS) and Norwegian University of Science and Technology has developed a handbook for employee-driven innovation.
The basis for this guide is the Norwegian Government's Innovation Report from 2009 which points out that employees are a vital resource in promoting innovation.
Openness and cooperation Studying twenty companies, the researchers obtained excellent data on what companies do to involve employees in the innovation process. They have pointed out certain cultural characteristics that lead to success.
"Transparency and a good flow of information about daily operations and decisions are essential in bringing about good innovation processes with active employees," project manager Kåre Hansen says, director of research at IRIS.
He points out that good interplay between management, employees and employee representatives will increase opportunities for employee-driven innovation.
"This gives the employees a sense of participation, pride and belonging. It is a precondition that the management of the companies see that employees represent an important potential for innovation," Hansen says.
According to Hansen, whose expertise is labor research, there are various ways to exploit the employees' innovation potential.
"An electronic proposal system and establishment of meeting forums and digital meeting places like Facebook can play a role. This must eventually result in initiatives that management, employees and employee representatives together can put into practice."
Hansen adds that user-driven innovation between customer and company also is a means to increasing the innovation potential in the companies.
The researcher cites a good example.
"Statoil has made an innovation portal where key challenges in the company have been identified. For example, the company invites input from both employees and the outside world in the area of drilling."
This type of open innovation is a way of thinking that we are going to see more of, Hansen believes.
The handbook will be available in paper format in the spring.
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