The Internal Workshop: Approach to Open Innovation

by Gabrielle Garand ― May 24, 2018

In many sectors, the employees "on the floor" are rarely those who drive technological development projects. Preoccupied with selling, producing, developing and doing their magic, they too often receive a final product that does not quite match their reality.

You're probably familiar with the brainstorming technique called user tests, but what about the internal workshop? Here are some tips to involve your employees in the ideation process, and thus develop a value-added (doubled) technology product through the open innovation approach.

Get involved they said!

Who to involve in the process? The answer may be obvious or a bit more complex depending on your type of business and the profiles of your employees.

Here are 4 leads for effective targeting:

1. Long-time employees, who understand the context of the business;
2. Employees representing the different typical profiles that will be required to work with the system;
3. Employees of different age groups, with different technological skills;
4. Employees leading in their team, who can be both participants and change agents once the new system is implemented.

Do not forget to make an all out call to find the employees who want to participate. Those who will be open to the activity without being unquestioningly positive are a very good asset (after all you want to discover the real problems!).

A context history

Doing a focus group can bring some leads, but what is really gratifying is seeing the employees in action. It may seem trivial, but putting people in context and asking them to execute rather than explain allows an array of hidden leads to be uncovered.

For example, in the case of a repeat sales system, ask the employee to serve a fictitious customer. Note the interactions, the discussions, the gestures that are made and the barriers that slow down the process.

You can then ask him to give you his opinion on the process, freshly released from the heat of the action he will be all the more talkative.

1 employee is good. 2 is better.

In fact, between 4 to 6 employees will allow you to have a more complete and realistic view of the behaviours and problems. Each person will obviously have her way of doing things and her opinion on many topics, and the number helps to discern the personal from the generalized.

Your employees are a goldmine

If we're not mistaken, one of your key metrics is to keep a good employee retention rate, right? Well, the internal workshop helps to improve just that! 

By making your employees participate in one of your enterprise's key project, you:

- Generate a sense of pride within your team;
- Increase the level of engagement and the sense of implication in each of them;
- Encourage your employees to gain satisfaction about the company they work for. 

Everybody loves giving their opinion and having the feeling that they are valued for their expertise. You're giving them just that by listening to them and putting them in a position when they can actually feel that they are concretely participating in the success of a given project. It's your chance to offer them what they need and helping your product to be the best it can. Now that's a win-win.  

Employees and an external partner

If the employees are the content experts, on the other hand an external partner will be the ultimate objective analyst.

His role?

- Ask questions, lots of questions. His external role allows him to have a sometimes naive approach that an employee would not have, which often highlights relevant elements from a customer perspective.
- To appear as a collaborator without bias and hardly intimidating for the employee.
- Bridging the business objectives with the reality evoked by employees.
- Objectively synthesize the results.
- Highlight relevant recommendations for the rest of the project, and even begin its conceptual architecture on the spot.

Do you want to try the experience of the internal workshop to design your next technological product in an optimal way? With these few tips, you already have a good basis to understand its functioning and the potential pitfalls.

Do not hesitate to contact the nventive team to plan your workshop, our experience in the field will ensure the success of this crucial step. Your employees will appreciate the attention given to their opinion, and you will ensure yourself of the added value of your technology project.

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