When we’re juggling so many things on a daily basis, there are times when it seems easier to put off change and innovation, especially when implementing new ideas isn’t going to deliver immediate results.
But there are other times when the only way forward is through change and when ideas become essential for tackling unforeseen challenges. At these times, innovation mustn’t be put on the back burner, since new ideas can provide a much-needed way forward by solving short-term challenges and delivering solutions to enable your business to continue to thrive.
In today’s unprecedented and challenging times, we’re keen to offer Idea Drop’s support to help manage the sea change that’s happening all around us. With that in mind, we’ve created a three-phase change-management strategy to guide you through this crisis and help turn challenges into opportunities.
Change management strategy: outline
- Prioritise challenges
- Create a plan
- Crowdsource ideas
PHASE TWO: Act and adapt
- Evaluate solutions
- Take action
- Adapt new systems
PHASE THREE: Review and integrate
- Get back to normal
Phase one: Prioritise challenges, create a plan and crowdsource ideas
When we’re faced with unexpected and unforeseen challenges, stress and anxiety often kick in. Some people are natural problem solvers and are more easily able to deal with a crisis but, for most of us, feeling anxious is our initial response to significant challenges like the coronavirus crisis.
For many businesses, the entire workforce is now working remotely, with colleagues and clients no longer able to meet in person. Everything from the ground up has to change and no one knows how long this situation will continue.
That’s why phase one of our strategy comes down to a simple five-step action plan enabling you to relieve the anxiety, prepare yourself for what’s coming next and get everyone on board to help you solve the immediate challenges:
1. Create a safe space for employees to express their ideas and concerns.
Idea Drop’s software enables you to create categories or ‘buckets’ for ideas. In this case, we recommend creating and dedicating a completely new category for the coronavirus campaign. It’s important that the campaign name always reflects its purpose while avoiding negative connotations so, for this strategy, we recommend ‘Navigating change’.
2. Identify your business challenges and prioritise them.
- How has your market changed?
- Which parts of your business can still function in the current climate?
- What doesn’t work in your current model?
- Can you reduce costs without making employees redundant?
- What are your competitors doing?
- What potential new revenue streams do you have?
- How can you digitalise your services?
Prioritise each component of your business challenges, assess each component one by one and schedule posting at least one component every week as a challenge on Idea Drop and start crowdsourcing ideas from the whole workforce. You don’t have to have all the answers yourself and it’s a good idea to invite everyone to participate in the problem solving process from the very beginning.
We’ve been busy analysing the key challenges our clients around the world are facing in response to COVID-19. The main issues they’ve highlighted are:
- Containing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 at home, at work and in public.
- Responding to and overcoming the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and financial markets.
- Being prepared as an organisation, responding to unfolding events as they happen and being better equipped for future crises.
- Communicating updates about COVID-19 internally, keeping pace with the astounding speed at which events are unfolding.
- Responding to the daily needs of employees’ in self-isolation and supporting their mental health.
- Enhancing strategies for building a remote workforce and remaining productive, and identifying the biggest challenges to establishing effective engagement and collaboration tools for remote workers.
- Finding new revenue streams and discovering cost-saving ideas.
- Understanding how customers’ needs have changed and are going to change in the future beyond COVID-19.
- Creating virtual products and services.
- Finding ways to support the NHS and those in need, as individuals and as organisations.
Once you’ve identified and prioritised your business challenges, you’re ready to start the next step of the process: crowdsourcing ideas through an ideas campaign.
When it comes to setting up the campaign, here are our recommendations:
- ALIGN WITH STRATEGY
Make sure your challenges align with your organisation’s overall strategy for responding to COVID-19. In times of uncertainty, employees will be encouraged to put forward ideas if they know that their ideas will be taken seriously and will potentially help to mitigate the disrupting impact of the crisis.
- USE APPROACHABLE LANGUAGE
Many employees will be feeling anxious and overwhelmed by everything they’re hearing about COVID-19. We recommend using approachable and open language in your challenge wording to help facilitate an open and supportive dialogue.
- COMMUNICATE THE PROGRESS
Internal comms around the challenges become critical at times like these when employees are likely to be exposed to conflicting information and might feel unsure about the best course of action. We recommend communicating the progress of ideas through the innovation pipeline quickly and clearly.
- RECORD VIDEOS
Make the most of the power of video. Videos don’t need to be filmed professionally to make an impact and drive engagement with idea campaigns. We see up to 58% higher engagement with challenges that use videos, so they’re a great way to increase awareness. Simply use a mobile phone or webcam to record videos in your home office to explain why you’re launching the campaign or a specific challenge as well as what it means for the company as a whole and each employee.
3. Announce the campaign launch.
Now, more than ever, it’s easy for employees to feel disconnected from the strategy or direction of your company. So it’s important you let them know that they’re playing a crucial role in finding solutions to your organisation’s challenges. Transparency is crucial and the more you communicate with your employees, the better.
Send an email on behalf of the CEO asking employees to share their ideas using the relevant hashtags or by posting their ideas in the relevant categories. This will make it easier for you to review each idea and will ensure that ideas reach the right decision makers quickly. Highlight that you’ll be posting regular challenges related to the coronavirus crisis and that you value everyone’s input.
PRO TIP: Promote your challenges on various platforms and channels. Publish news about each new challenge on your intranet and on Slack, and include updates in your weekly online check-in call. Ask admins and moderators to do the same.
4. Provide timely feedback and skim quick wins.
Feedback is key. You should schedule 30 minutes every week, and ask each idea category owner do the same, to go through every idea and provide feedback by leaving a comment or rating each idea. Remember to:
- Give each idea equal weight regardless of whether it comes from a trainee or a more senior colleague.
- If you can’t come up with any feedback straight away, ask considered questions.
- Be objective and direct. Your team needs to know when they’re on the wrong track, so you need to be specific about the problems an idea might face.
- Always explain why you decide not to action an idea; there’s nothing more disheartening for someone than having their idea dismissed for no apparent reason.
Great ideas will be coming up constantly, and some of them are likely to require more time and resources to be approved by decision makers and then actioned. However, people will want to see tangible results quickly. So, if possible, try to action at least one quick win each week. Quickly scan through all ideas regularly and try to identify ideas that can be actioned here and now, even just in part.
Proactively seek opportunities to show that you value each idea. This will demonstrate to your employees that the campaign is working and that things are moving forward.
5. Celebrate early successes and engagement.
At the end of each week, send out a quick email to thank everyone who participated in the challenge, encourage those who didn’t participate to get involved in future, and explain what’s going to happen next. Post the email as a bulletin on Idea Drop and share a post on your intranet. Your goal is to make the campaign as visible as possible and reinforce its positive impact on your company. Use it as another opportunity to explain how important each idea is and why every idea matters to you.
At the end of the day, people are at their most productive, happiest and engaged when they feel part of something bigger than themselves and when they feel that they’re being heard and recognised for their input. So even a very quick message of thanks to the people who interacted with a challenge is going to have a positive impact on the campaign and will encourage further participation and ideation.
Here is a suggestion for a bulletin that you can post at the end of first week:
Want to find out how other organisations are using Idea Drop to drive innovation?
Read our case studies
From Fortune 500 engineering companies to large UK Police forces, organisations everywhere trust Idea Drop to navigate change and drive innovation with impact.