Is Silence Killing Your Innovation?

Would you trade silence for innovation?

Would you trade silence for innovation?

What may seem a ridiculous question is a choice many companies still make today.

According to McKinsey, collaboration can increase employee productivity by up to 25%, which translates to nearly $600 billion in value across commercial sectors alone. Further, a study conducted by the Future Foundation on behalf of Google reported an 81% positive correlation between collaboration and innovation across all markets. Despite the direct link between collaboration and innovation, many organizations have yet to break employee silence.

Whether employees have a voice at work is directly determined by management. Many employees are reluctant to share ideas and feedback due to the fear of ridicule or termination. According to a recent Nielsen innovation report, two in three consumer product professionals rank collaboration among the top three most critical factors for innovation success, outpacing strong leadership and access to financial resources. Despite the importance placed upon collaboration, 74% of professionals believe their company is not collaborating effectively.

When employees fail to collaborate, they constrain their access to knowledge and new ways of thinking. This lack of voice results in vital knowledge, creativity, and innovation being withheld – and can have dire consequences for the organization. To prevent such consequences, management must break organizational barriers and nurture a company culture that values knowledge sharing, collaboration, and innovation.

An online community is an ideal platform for collaboration and innovation. When Nielsen examined the impact of collaboration on innovation, the results indicated that a diverse range of ideas can drastically affect the fruition of new ideas. An online community can generate the necessary level of collaboration by giving employees one place to capture knowledge, share ideas, post questions and answers, and provide feedback.

True innovation is also achieved by opening the floor to customers. 86% of Fortune 500 companies said communities provide insight into customer needs. Further, 64% of companies stated community has improved their decision-making. A public community encourages company-customer ideation and generates more opportunities to identify what consumers want. For example, NASCAR turned to an online community to engage their customers in a co-innovation process. They used their insight community to talk with their fans about how to make races more exciting, which is what led them to change NASCAR rules so drivers now race side-by-side instead of single file. Not only does this kind of collaboration strengthen relationships and increase loyalty, but it also gives companies the opportunity to incorporate valuable insight into product development.

Collaboration is the catalyst for innovation. To get an innovative idea off the ground, organizations must establish create an environment where employees and customers can develop fresh ideas, encounter new ways of thinking, and share feedback.