By: Rob Hoehn
Bridie Scott is an Innovation Manager at Spotless and she’s taken the business on a journey from a large-scale company with big goals to a company that is listening to and empowering all of their frontline employees in the innovation process.
If you’re not familiar with Spotless, then you’re not familiar with one of the premier Australian companies. Spotless is the largest integrated facilities management services provider in Australia and New Zealand. They have a team of more than 36,000 exceptional people and over 1,000 clients in defense, education, government, healthcare, and beyond. So their innovation efforts cover a lot of ground: process improvement to IoT sensor monitoring, drone delivery, autonomous vehicles, and more.
But when Bridie Scott took on the role of Innovation Manager at Spotless, she went through a process of reinventing and revitalizing innovation. Her step-by-step approach provides a blueprint to other innovation managers looking to influence and lead change at their organization.
Discovery. In Spotless’s case they realized that the culture of innovation hadn’t trickled down throughout the organization. For that matter, even if everyone at Spotless were to become engaged in the innovation process, there wasn’t a defined set of resources that could help deliver on promising ideas. Scott started by planning a system that would invite participation from all, but could also deliver on the promise of implementation. To do that she focused on…
Structure and Process. Scott developed a decision-making structure and process for collecting and developing ideas. This system was going to be used company-wide and had to be repeatable. She decided how she would encourage idea sharing, how she would present ideas, how she would leverage emerging talent, and more. Once she knew how she would roll out this program she launched a series of…
Innovation Leadership Workshops. Only after she had her process and structure laid out did she start making her case to leadership. The workshops served a dual purpose: to make a case for how important it was to innovate with the help of their full workforce and to find resources and allies that would make it easier to deliver on ideas in the future. Fortunately, her executive team was fully bought in and now provides her both budget and time. This allowed her to…
Create a Place for Ideas. Now that leadership was on board she needed to have a place where all ideas could be gathered, connected, and developed. This database was at once a magnet for new ideas as well as a renewable mine of knowledge for ideas whether they were ready for prime time or not. This community became the shared answer to the question “If I have an idea… what do I do with it?” Obviously, since I’m telling you this story, you know that they used IdeaScale as their idea management system.
Promote Innovation Practices to Employees. With leadership backing, software in place, and executive sponsorship, Scott invited all of Spotless’s employees to start sharing some of their biggest problems as well as potential solutions and taking them on one by one. As she identified good ideas, she also identified potential talent from within the company and created a mentoring program that would reward the innovators not just with recognition but meaningful professional development. Those ideas have been wide-ranging from potential new tech to new means of using AI to make the workplace safer.
The path that Scott pursued is one that would help any emerging innovation manager. Each of these steps is part of a checklist of requirements that need to be in place for large-scale employee empowerment to thrive. To learn more about how Spotless developed their innovation program, listen to the full podcast episode here.
About the author
Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.
Featured image via Unsplash.