Innovation in the Workplace

Innovation. It’s the business buzzword of the decade, so much so that many of us are sick of hearing it. But no matter how you slice it, creativity in the workplace leads to more innovative products and services – something that virtually every business needs to attend to in this era of nanosecond loyalty.

I hear many clients say, “Why is it that every time I ask people to think of a creative solution, I get a blank stare?” The trick is creating a culture that produces the right dialogue.

Intuit is a great example of how this works. The company has been around for over thirty years and revived creativity in their organization through their Design for Delights workshops. These workshops center around getting employees to think more creatively and developing products that will better serve their customers.

Intuit selected members from multiple levels inside the organization, including “front-line” staffers who routinely interface with customers, to become “innovative catalysts.” These “innovative catalysts” spend 10% of their total workweek helping to run “Design for Delight” workshops with other members of the organization. Each workshop includes a “Painstorm” exercise, which allows team members to observe customer’s behavior and routines rather than theorize what they are. These observations allow Intuit staffers to develop new methods to enhance the customer’s experience. They also help with Intuit’s marketing efforts by providing more focused messages to reach Intuit’s target customers.

Based on the nature of these Design for Delight workshops the team almost entirely switched from PowerPoint presentations to explain their products. Instead, they now generate ideas, create prototypes, and allow prospective customers to interact with the prototypes. This saves time and generates more accurate feedback for the team. By using the Design for Delight workshops and the innovation catalysts, Intuit had more than 28 new services reach market in the first year, including such notable ones as Quickbooks and Turbotax.

What steps are you and your management team taking to create a culture of innovation in your workplace?

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