Automation is no more a buzz word in the industry, as it was ten years ago. The mindset of the employees took a paradigm shift in their way of thinking as automation mindset evolved into an ‘Innovation’ mindset, and now ‘Innovation’ is emerging as ‘Business as Usual’.
To trigger the innovation mindset among the employees, organizations must start with workforce transformation, workplace transformation and then start applying them for client-centric innovation.
Cultivating the seed of ‘Innovative thinking’ within the mindset of the employees, rather than teaching them on automation or process efficiencies should be the starting point. Invite volunteers within the organization or application streams, who are interested in getting certified with industry leading automation tools. In two to three months, approximately 10% of your workforce would show interest in training themselves or getting certified. In addition to that, launch an “Idea portal’ to facilitate the employees within the organization to log their ideas for innovation. A governance model and process should be created to vet these ideas on a regular basis, assess the return on investment in implementing those ideas and prioritizing the logged items for implementation. You would be surprised to receive ideas from multiple streams within your organization.
When I went for grocery shopping to Walmart last year on a Black Friday, I was surprised to see all the shopping carts filled with gadgets and items on sale. I did not have any intention to buy that day, other than groceries, however the sight of overflowing shopping carts and the long line-ups at cashiers caused me to panic and feel like I am missing something ‘big’, and forced me to buy a smart TV on sale, even though I did not have any idea to purchase one. The analogy here is to the work environment and ambience that should be created in the workplace, to kindle the mindset of employees on Innovative thinking, which would unintentionally yield them to the innovative thought process and make them believe they are missing something if they are not part of this transformation journey.
One real-time example that clicked in our organization is launching ‘Digital receptionist’ using Google Home which was placed in our front office to register a visitor, handle parcel delivery, and send notifications to the receiver. This was one of our first interventions into the Artificial Intelligence space by customizing the Google DialogFlow. Every staff member who entered office had to cross this receptionist each day, that would slowly inject the idea of digitalism in their mindset. Interestingly, no one would have anticipated in mid-2019 that a situation like Covid would make ‘contactless receptionist’ as the new normal, and we already had a solution for this unprecedented situation.
The next suggestion is to launch an ‘Innovation Lab’. This doesn’t require a sophisticated closed room. A cubicle in the vicinity of your employees in the same working floor can be selected for this. Utilize this space to launch demos of applications focused on innovation using cutting-edge technologies. Setup kiosks to spread awareness on these innovative tools and facilitate nurturing of the innovative mindset on the floor.
Driving innovation would not be serving its full purpose if it is not applied to our clients. Using the transformed workforce, engage in discovery sessions with your clients. Offering a discovery session with the client’s workforce (either free of cost or for a minimal cost) for a week or two, and identifying process inefficiencies, bottlenecks in their day-to-day operations, areas of streamlining can help them realize operational issues faster.
This should not be limited with only discovery sessions, but also extend the offerings on proof of concepts to help them identify and appreciate the value of automation and innovation in their world.
To conclude, innovation is a journey without any destination, and it requires pit stops to refuel your thought process on what is needed for the hour. What was innovative a year ago would be obsolete now, especially with the disruptions due to Covid and its impact on everyone’s lives. Hence, the best way to propel innovation is to germinate the ‘Innovative’ mindset within our employees, especially those at the ground level as they understand the customer better and can cascade the insights to the managers and executives, to get direction on the strategy to structure it, and making it a success for our clients and also for our own organization. Start socializing the concept of innovation within your team and change your mindset to apply innovation in your day-to-day work.