Project Management Institute

More than Ideas

Project Managers Can Provide a Structure That Turns Employees Innovative Suggestions into Business

img

ISTOCKPHOTO

By Susanne Galanek, PMP

A department at my organization began a program in 2018 to encourage employees to submit ideas for generating new business, improving the customer experience or motivating our workforce. The Brilliance Campaign focused on creating a safe and engaging environment that would help transform ideas into executable initiatives. Although the journey had its up and downs, it generated a wealth of innovation because project management provided a framework for nearly every step of the process.

Staff from the project management office (PMO) implemented meeting techniques and suggestions for communicating with the whole department about the campaign. The PMO then helped the idea creator prepare for a presentation to senior management to gain idea approval. The PMO also helped the organizing committee generate processes for soliciting ideas and rewarding those who dared to respond. Finally, once an idea was approved by senior management, a project manager was assigned to help move it into an understandable flow of work packages.

To get employees to go all-in on the campaign, the PMO developed a process that stressed regular communication and guidance and provided time for people to explore and workshop their ideas. The campaign had a robust communications plan with open houses, a steering committee, newsletters, key performance indicators (KPIs) and team recognition, even for failures.

The department worked hard to remind employees that the new program was no outlier—it was now part of the culture. At launch, the department gave each employee a mouse pad with campaign credos:

  • Challenge the status quo—Be bold and lead.
  • Don't be afraid to fail—The biggest risk is not taking any risk.
  • Self-awareness—Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
  • Say “I don't know—but I will find out.”
  • Team—Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.

IMPLEMENTING A CAMPAIGN

Here are tips I recommend for other organizations looking to get employee innovation campaigns started:

1. Kick off with an emphasis on a safe and encouraging workplace. An environment that embraces failure will also encourage valuable ideas. People need to know that they have a team behind them to support the experimentation.

2. Provide a portal for submitting ideas and for giving timely recognition and updates.

3. Create a form or checklist with open-ended questions to help innovators think outside the box.

4. Have a review board or program office to provide feedback and positive reinforcement.

5. Appoint a committee or a mentor to assist in the initial idea presentation to senior management.

6. Assign a project manager if the idea needs resources, funding or organizational communication.

7. Track up-to-date KPIs on the program to report successes or issues.

It's an amazing feeling for project managers to help someone turn an idea into a project that improves a company's culture, workday or profitability. Employees feel more connected to their organization. They bring a better mood and more energy to their work each day—and creative possibilities begin to open up. PM

img Susanne Galanek, PMP, is head of the PMO at Verisk Analytics, Jersey City, New Jersey, USA.
This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Related Content

  • Why Great Ideas Fail and How to Make Sure They Don't

    By Vargas, Ricardo Viana | Conforto, Edivandro Carlos | Oumarou, Tahirou Assane To reduce failure rates and successfully deliver strategies in 2020 and beyond, organizations must overcome disruptive forces and flip posing challenges to opportunities and advantages. It all…

  • Pulse of the Profession

    Tomorrow's Teams Today

    By PMI PMI research reveals that it’s the organizations with creative, collaborative and agile teams that will thrive in The Project Economy.

  • PM Network

    Vital Signs

    Transforming horizon-focused strategic visions into here-and-now reality can't happen in a vacuum. Instead, project leaders must cultivate a deep understanding of the business, technological,…

  • PM Network

    Power to Change

    By Tayel, Jess Many organizations are undergoing (or will soon undergo) a business transformation program geared toward growth and creating a competitive advantage. When successful, these programs bring about a…

  • PM Network

    Disruption Done Right

    By Mustafa, Abid The digital revolution can't be stopped—but it can stop organizations. According to a 2019 global survey by Couchbase, 81 percent of enterprises had a digital transformation project fail, suffer…

Advertisement