Innovation does not work without the employees. To really move a company forward, to establish new products or processes or to change the market – it takes a good and well-rehearsed team. One problem that many companies have, however, is that their employees are not aware of the changes that are taking place in the innovation departments and teams and then react rather dismissively to the forward-looking business models. Good internal communication is therefore needed to drive innovation management forward.
It is not enough to have a great innovation team or to have found the optimal idea for the success of the company. The key factor for success is an open and cooperative innovation culture in the company. This can be created through well thought-out internal communication. This requires an inspiring use of the various media genres and communication instruments to take the entire company on a journey into the future.
When it comes to innovation, you have to think outside the box. Within the company, this can begin with getting out of one’s own specialist area and exchanging ideas with other colleagues in order to gain better insights into their work, but also innovations.
Regular exchange of ideas is achieved through tools such as Microsoft Teams or Slack. There should be a topic where new ideas can interact. An area where colleagues can share their tasks and suggestions and where necessary discussions take place. These are guarantees to spark new ideas.
Innovation needs a culture of trust
Innovations are something new, uncertain and unknown. The colleagues are rightly afraid of contact with the new processes and products and must first get to know them better. Even if innovators are willing to take risks and open to new ideas, this does not apply to every member of a team. To sell an innovation well, therefore, trust must be built up. Employees and departments must be allowed to express their opinions and ideas. They must be allowed to ask questions about innovation without fear of looking stupid in front of their boss or colleagues.
Internal communication should therefore regularly seek discussion. CEOs, managers and department heads must motivate their teams to ask what is on their minds. The more people deal with a new idea, the more open they become over time. When employees notice that the questions they ask in internal communication are taken up and implemented, they approach a new product or process more quickly.
Internal innovation events also lend themselves to such an exchange. Project team members, management and works council members, for example, can sit together on a panel and answer colleagues’ questions.
Lifelong learning for employees
To change employees’ attitudes towards digital or innovative change, they need to develop an understanding of change. They need to rationally engage with trends and technologies and experience them first-hand in order to be more open to the projects that are changing the company. This knowledge-based culture helps employees ask the right questions.
For years, I have been offering innovation impulses that enable companies to train their employees in topics such as robotics, augmented reality and virtual reality or digital transformation and to take away their fear of contact. Also trend reports and simply prepared multimedia trend impulses help to understand the innovations.
Once the dialogue and lifelong learning have got underway, employees will be more open to the transformation and will be able to contribute their own valuable ideas from their specialist area.
In all the steps of internal communication described above, the aim is to keep transparency in the company as high as possible. It is about seeking open exchange, learning from employees and colleagues and thus making developments and innovations even better and closer to the target group.
An internal communication system makes it possible to talk to all employees, make information easily accessible to them and enable them to follow all processes within the company. If employees know what is happening in the innovation teams, they can contribute better ideas of their own, which can be central to the ultimate success of a project.