October Roundtable

Every month, ASQ selects a quality-themed topic or question for Influential Voices bloggers to discuss as part of a round table. The October  topic is: How can employers leverage quality to invite innovation?

Some companies choose to use monetary rewards to motivate their employees. Other companies rely on using open and collaborative environments. Some focus on idea sharing between colleagues. What is the most effective technique?

If you’re interested in taking part in future roundtables, please contact social@asq.org.

David Grossman ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, CSP, is one of America’s foremost authorities on communication and leadership, and a sought-after speaker and advisor to Fortune 500 leaders. A three-time author, David is CEO of The Grossman Group an award-winning Chicago-based strategic leadership development and internal communication consultancy. He blogs at leadercommunicator.

Jimena Calfa Argentina native Jimena Calfa is a Quality Manager and ASQ Senior member who is truly involved in raising the value of quality and focusing on continuous process improvement. She blogs at OnQuality.info.

Chris Moustakas President, Chief Executive Officer. Chris entered the enterprise software industry right after graduation. He helped design and build mission-critical applications in industries as varied as Insurance, Banking, Healthcare, and Utilities. Today, Chris is passionate about helping organizations of any size become more agile and improve their operations by adopting the Devonway platform approach to their digital needs. Visit Chris’s blog at https://www.devonway.com/blog/.

Luigi F. Sille is the Quality Manager of the Curaçao Red Cross Blood Bank Foundation. Luigi is from Curaçao, a small island in the Caribbean.He is now a senior member of the ASQ, and one of the foremost quality professionals on the island. He achieved the ASQ CMQ/OE, CQA, CQPA, and CQIA certifications. He is very passionate about quality, and promoting quality. This is done through his Blog, sharequality.wordpress.com.

Luciana Paulise is a business consultant and founder of Biztorming Training & Consulting. She holds an MBA from CEMA University in Argentina, is a Quality Engineer Certified by ASQ, and a Senior ASQ member. Luciana has also participated as an examiner for the National Quality Award in Argentina. She blogs about quality and continuous improvement for small and medium size businesses, both in English and in Spanish.Visit Luciana’s blog

David Grossman

Leaders need to lead and invite innovation through their actions. Fostering innovation starts with a corporate culture that values and recognizes diversity and inclusion in its broadest definition. These aren’t words on a vision poster but a core organizational value that’s seen and reinforced in the actions of every single leader.

It’s difficult to innovate without a wide range of perspectives that are welcomed and embraced. A myriad of viewpoints need to be sought out regularly and valued. Employees need to feel empowered. It’s important that leaders create an atmosphere that inspires employees to be creative thinkers and contribute their ideas to solving business problems and creating the future together.

This also means giving people the right resources to set them up for success and being there – as the leader – to encourage continued collaboration and productive conflict that comes from a wonderful diversity of thoughts and ideas. Only out of looking at varied choices can smart and strategic innovations be created.

Jimena Calfa

There are out there a lot of techniques and strategies that can address innovation, but the foundation to cultivate innovation is to “create and promote a collaborative and respectful environment where employees have the space and feel the freedom to innovate, in a regular basis”.

What has to be in that innovative environment?

  • Motivated top Managers to innovate and that can encourage employees to get out of their comfort zone and reaching for new ideas.
  • Time and Resources to innovate.
  • Innovation is inherently risky, so employees must have the freedom of failure and taking risk. Managers should promote that FAILURE is not a negative but a must-happen positive learning experiences from where innovative ideas can be born.
  • As much as disparate groups as possible to boost the brainstorming of ideas.
  • Time to celebrate and reward employees for being innovative, no matter the results.
  • The most important part for employees: they have to feel the sensation of ownership to the idea. People do a better job when they believe in what they do is adding value to the company and they are being recognized for that.

People have a lot of great ideas. If you give them the space to think out of the box, you will be surprise of the results. Nobel Prize Winner Dr Albert Szent-Gyorgyi said

”Innovation is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.”

Chris Moustakas

Quality can invite innovation with two simple yet powerful techniques:

  • Empowering employees to participate.
  • Recognizing them when they do.

When Quality tools are accessible to the entire organization – especially the ground floor where waste is seen firsthand – it becomes a part of the culture. And when workers see that their ideas are listened to and recognized, innovation flourishes – especially when the success of their ideas are validated with real, objective measurements, which proves that Quality has value and encourages people to trust the process.

Luigi F. Sille:

Nowadays the competition is very tough, and organizations have to do a lot to stay in the game. So companies/organizations must go the extra mile. They must think and do something more, something extra: something customers have not anticipated.

Employers can benefit a lot by creating an innovation culture in their organization. Creating a culture for innovation in your organization means that the top of the organization must:

  • Listen (and be willing) to identify opportunities, ideas: Sometimes the greatest ideas don’t come from experts
  • Take the creativity step (thinking of new ideas: brainstorming)
  • Generating new ideas
  • Leaders and managers must give their visible support.

Tangible and intangible rewards motivate each employee differently, and not the same way each time. The most effective technique. There is NONE. The most effective way to motivate employees is a combination of Tangible and Intangible rewards.

My personal opinion:

  • Just the feeling of an employee being important to the organization, and have an input in the development and improvement in the quality of the product and or service will make miracles.
  • Employees want to be respected as human beings.

An empowered employee is maybe more motivated to perform better, than just rewarding him or her with money.

Luciana Paulise

The best way to get innovation to be productive for your business is to make it repeatable. The most well-known innovation is the one that a single gifted individual produces, like a Mark Zuckerberg or a Richard Branson. But what if you make it more earthly, helping everyone in the company to be innovative? You can do it by making the innovation process repeatable, available to everyone, still customer focused and profitable. Quality management can help you achieve that.

Yes, you do need quality to foster innovation. Phil Crosby also said that “all work is a process”, and innovation is not an exception.

Lean SOP’s or standard operating procedures can help innovation to be part of the culture by defining a specific process to foster innovation across the Company. Google encourages their employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google,” Their founders said that “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances (like Gmail or AdSense) have happened in this manner.” Google also included some mindfulness training sessions to help their employees be even more focused and productive.

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