Companies should bank on their think tanks

Businesses need ideas to grow. How and from where can these ideas be generated?

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Businesses need ideas to grow. How and from where can these ideas be generated?

Employees are a storehouse of ideas, and it is high time companies tapped into this resource to innovate new products, processes and cultures. The versatile talent pool of an organisation can be its greatest source of ideas.

By encouraging employees to give ideas, the leaders create think-tanks within the organisation. A company’s workforce is constantly in touch with the customers, first-hand users of company processes and the creators of its culture.

Then, who else is in the best position to bounce off ideas that can help a company increase market share, improve productivity and create a culture of growth and development?

Balachandar N.

“A company evolves with the help of employees and innovation evangelists”

 

HRKatha spoke to MR Rajnarayan, CHRO, Titan, who shares an anecdote on how Titanic Titan has been successful in converting employee ideas into projects. ‘Taniera’ was invented through one such exercise.

Titan Innovation engine

“We pose challenges to employees that are curated by senior business leaders. The employees participate in cross-function teams to provide innovative solutions. The jury selects the idea that has the potential to create the highest impact, and the winning team is awarded.

“This way, we inspire people to think out of the box, and reflect beyond their normal jobs,” says Rajnarayan.

Ignitor, a programme launched by Titan was a big leap in capitalising employee ideas. Through this programme (like an accelerator) Titan tapped ideas by a talent pool of 1100 employees. A contest was organised to motivate employees to come up with business ideas which the company could branch into. Out of the 700 ideas that emerged, the top 17 were selected, and one was converted into a project which was funded by the company. “This  was how Taniera Sarees was born. Some ideas are still lying in the vault, which we will use in future,” says Rajnarayan.

Titan also uses its manpower to seek culture ideas to continuously evolve its 32-year-old legacy. Group discussions have helped them add elements to their culture and tweak a few to identify seven cultural tenets.

Anil Misra

“The genesis of this invention is traced to discussions between cross-functions. We have taken this one step ahead with a unique programme called ‘innovation lab’”

We spoke to the business group that has revolutionised the coffee culture in India through their chain of cafes that go by the name Café Coffee Day.

Balachandar N, group director-HR, Coffee Day Group says, “At CCD, there are two specific areas where innovation is very critical— design of the store/café and R&D on food.”

The Group has an innovation team that consistently meets with the branch managers of the country to brainstorm ideas. Last week there was one such meeting with 40 zonal managers, who spent three hours with an innovation and creativity expert to fish for ideas which could lead to an improvement in the operation of CCD.

“A company evolves with the help of employees and innovation evangelists,” says Balachandar.

Rajnarayan

“Ignitor programme was launched to capitalise on employee ideas, Titan tapped ideas by a talent pool of 1100 employees. This  was how Taniera Sarees was born”  

Anil Misra, CHRO Magicbricks says, “The genesis of this invention is traced to discussions between cross-functions. We have taken this one step ahead with a unique programme called ‘innovation lab’.”

PCDQEM, short for process cost delivery quality and employee morale, defines the different heads under which employees can suggest ideas. A separate mailer is created and circulated among employees to submit their ideas, which get reviewed by the CEO from time to time and the best ideas are rewarded. The employees receive encouragement when they see their ideas published internally and recognised in the town hall.

“Anybody, irrespective of rank and file, who has a bright idea on how to add value to our customers, generate new revenue streams or strengthen employee morale can post it in the innovation lab mails,” says Misra.

AMA, which stands for  ‘Ask me anything’, refers to sessions wherein employees can directly ask the CEOs questions pertaining to why an idea was shortlisted, what will be the future course of action and so on. Such sessions take place once a month.

It is time for companies to realise that their workforces are actually dormant volcanoes that can erupt with ideas, if only they are made active.

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