Communication and Collaboration – Pillars of Sustainable Innovation

Whether you are striving to be an industry leader, or just trying to keep your business afloat, meeting the needs of your customers is critical, and their demands are rapidly changing. For purposes of this discussion, lets assume that we understand the ever-changing needs of our customers. How do we then address them?

Fortunately, many organizations already have the concepts or ideas to address the needs; they just have to be uncovered. Studies have shown that over 70% of the time, a challenge was solved by an idea from someone within the organization, and usually from someone they never thought to ask. This makes sense when you consider that organizations are made up of people who work with the goals of the company on a day-to-day basis. They are constantly thinking of better ways to do things, however the vast majority of these ideas are not shared.

If these ideas already exist, and the people who hold them are readily accessible, then the key is the communication of these ideas to the appropriate people who can do something with them. This requires constant communication from all levels of a company. The corporate goals and needs should be shared throughout the organization. All members of the organization should have a way to easily present their ideas, or contribute to their colleagues’ ideas. To embed innovation within an organization, people must step up as active and involved communicators. Everyone must buy into the relentless attitude and understand the importance of engaging all levels of a company to bring about constant, new ideas.

Chubb, a leading 21st century insurance provider, understood the significance of inter-organization communication, bringing the now $13.6 billion company nothing but prosperity. As a decentralized company with more than 10,000 employees in almost 30 countries, Chubb found a way to connect their employees and centralize the process of idea sharing. The needs are shared and propositions from all levels are communicated in a unified manner so everyone has access and can become familiar with the newly shared ideas. With this format, various departments, divisions and individuals can provide insight and bring to light things others may not run across. It also gives people a chance to share their expertise with those whom they might not typically come in contact. It’s about providing an organizational process that encourages the transfer and creation of new concepts.

Ultimately, the innovation process should be about finding, empowering, and fostering individuals and teams to continually improve. An organization that encourages and facilitates constant communication will reveal and create ideas that will help keep up with the pace of the constantly evolving markets.

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