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A company’s very survival relies not on a visionary CEO or group of executives but the collective knowledge of its employees and their ability to collaborate.
The reality is, despite the spotlight that’s placed on founders, not one CEO or group of executives knows everything.
New advances in technology, consumer behavioral changes, and a whole host of other factors make it difficult for one or even a handful of individuals to keep up.
In the competitive environment today, how quickly a company adapts to change is an advantage that’s needed to pull away from the competition.
How do you adapt quickly if it’s just one person contributing to the company’s roadmap? You don’t.
As Serial Entrepreneur Andrew Medal points out in a recent Entrepreneur.com article: “By leveraging the resources of the crowd, the amount of brain power being applied to any given problem can be exponentially increased.”
In other words, a company’s biggest advantage is sitting right under their nose: employees. To not tap into this resource to point the business down the right path or surface new opportunities is exactly why companies fall behind.
Luckily, you don’t have to be one of those companies that fall behind.
In the same article, Medal make another very insightful point: “Acquisitions have become a central part of staying ahead. Capturing innovation from the crowd is now streamlined enough to become a part of any company’s survival kit.”
While acquisitions will always play a role in capturing innovation and staying ahead, it’s not the end all be all.
We’ve seen example after example of companies successfully leveraging crowdsourcing technology to capture innovation at scale.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to see an employee – typically not in an executive role – share an idea with their leadership team only to see it take off and make a significant impact on the bottom line.
An employee and Campbell Soup Company, for example, shared an idea that would enable the company to extract millions of dollars from the byproduct one of its plants was producing. Why is this a big deal? This particular plant was on the verge of closing operations. Now, because of this one idea, the company is investing more money into the plant keeping its doors open.
That’s the power of one idea from one employee, and a company having a process in place to capture innovation.
Imagine if you had access to the ideas of all of your employees.
Here’s another example: Hong Kong-based Li & Fung.
Li & Fung is a 100+ year old company with over 22,000 employees worldwide that has used crowdsourcing masterfully.
Crowdsourcing has served as the foundation for the company’s innovation program over the years, and has blossomed into a company-wide initiative that has allowed them to unleash the entrepreneurial energy within its workforce.
A production manager at its UK-based beauty factory, for example, had an idea for a product that was in a totally different category from beauty – outdoor goods. However, this didn’t take away from the idea’s impact, and it didn’t stop Li & Fung from developing it further.
When it comes to capturing innovation anytime and anywhere, crowdsourcing is a practice that’s more important now than ever.
One the most beneficial byproducts of crowdsourcing is the impact it has on building a culture of innovation.
We’ve seen companies like Pfizer, AT&T, and Siemens transform their cultures simply by enabling their employees to share ideas and solve problems together. These problems can be anything from new products to process improvements, and drive either incremental or exponential impact.
That type of encouragement, combined with the right tools and training, gives employees a voice that can have a lasting impact on employee retention, business growth, and ultimately culture.
As Mahesh Nair, Founder of Picsdream, said: “every startup needs to make innovation a part of its DNA, if it wants to get ahead of competitors and retain that position.”
Whether you’re a startup or large enterprise, there’s strength in numbers.
To make innovation truly part of your company’s DNA, every single employee – from receptionist to customer support to HR – needs to be involved.
How do you get them involved at scale? Crowdsourcing.