Innovation and the power of social
Social media can be the means to involving all stakeholders in innovation
November last year saw the first ever UAE Innovation Week, which brought a number of headlines of announcements and hundreds of workshops, labs, brainstorming sessions and initiatives to encourage creativity and kickstart a boom in innovative thinking.
One of the interesting points to note about innovation is that it cannot properly happen in a vacuum. Individuals can have ideas, even make inventions, but if the ideas don't relate to the reality of the environment, they are unlikely to have much impact.
Likewise, innovation needs input - different stakeholders have to have their say. While innovation should be focused on people and process for sharing, in the area of ‘input', there are powerful tools that are helping to make sharing and developing ideas much easier - namely social media styles tools.
Adopting these social tools, whether to connect personnel within and organisation or to reach out to the wider community, is becoming an essential part of any innovation program. Different groups can have their say about proposals and ideas, and projects can benefit from attracting a wide range of expertise and viewpoints to guide them. Introducing social into innovation seems like a natural step, and given the popularity and widespread acceptance of social channels, most organisations are likely to find that their users are practically demanding to have their say through social means.
An important lesson to learn from social media when it comes to innovation, however, is to truly adopt a spirit of sharing. Credit should go to those responsible for good ideas and suggestions, and at the same time, organisations need to learn that if a new idea doesn't deliver as expected, that they cannot just stop communicating.
In fact, when things go wrong, organisations need to understand that this is the time to communicate openly. Stakeholders across different functions may well have different insights into why a project failed, and a different perspective might even help to take an innovation that doesn't quite deliver and transform it into one that does, even if that means changing track or focus. Succesful innovation requires organisations to adopt a number of different practices, but sharing can provide the spark that turns an idea into an innovation.