Designing a Consistent Business Problem-Solving Forum in Global Capability Centers

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Today, tapping innovation and creativity is expected from Shared Services organizations. If your employees aren’t constantly thinking about your customers and of newer and better ways of delivering high value for the business, then your organization is staring at failure.

It is not just about sending employees on a hackathon or inviting cool ideas that gather dust after the exercise is over. Truly making a difference to the business means creating a culture of innovation, equipping employees with critical thinking skills and the nuances of learning agility, an expectation at the workplace going forward. So, how do organizations design platforms for such disruptive thinking and collaboration?

Here are a few thoughts that can help your Global Capability Center kick-start and stay relevant.

  • Focus on purpose: To drive participation and to increase ‘stickiness,’ organizations put big bucks behind such problem-solving initiatives. They hope that prize money will motivate employees to come up with ideas and solve business challenges. On the contrary, what truly motivates them is the purpose of creating extraordinary solutions that leaves a mark on the world. Those organizations who realize this insight can reap the benefits of collective wisdom and engagement.

  • Build ‘space’ to fail: Not all problem-solving efforts will result in mindboggling output. In fact, a majority of attempts will not pass muster. Organizations who celebrate those failures can drive even more engagement and risk-taking among employees. Creating a forum to discuss ideas or solutions that didn’t work,  and consider how they can be ‘parked’ for future attempts will be well received.

  • Solve real-world problems: Blue-sky thinking vs actual customer pain point solutioning? There is no doubt that going for moonshots can be game-changing if you put the customer at the heart of the attempt and not go after vanity issues that look good to leaders. From a practical standpoint, the emphasis on improving customer experience through real-world problem solving will get you more satisfaction and positive business results.

  • Drive adoption of solutions: Organizations very often reinvent the wheel with such initiatives. Once the problem-solving event is done, it is back to the routine grind. Instead, extending the event to get the solution to the customer and demonstrating business value must be encouraged. That will also inspire other employees to follow suit and appreciate the organization’s effort to drive change.
  • Constantly ideate: A majority of those posting comments on Glassdoor, the online, anonymous review site, discuss one of the Big Nine factors of company culture: innovation. Such initiatives can’t wait for a senior leadership diktat. They must become part of the DNA and employees must be hungry for idea and innovation. This can only happen when there are processes and tools in place that make it simple, easy and energizing to participate.

  • Communicate success stories: One of the gaps with problem solving events is that not everyone participates, and those who do may not be recognized enough. Communicate the success stories and those who contributed significant effort, even if they failed. What’s more important to share is that co-creating solutions is a team effort, and that’s the culture your organization needs. These don’t have to be large-scale campaigns – simple messages on your company intranet, a thank you from leaders, or a recognition by the manager, are some of the many ways to raise awareness of the culture within.

Getting your employees to co-create solutions regularly means building the right environment, investing in the most appropriate resources and always keeping the core reason for such initiatives – to enable a culture where everyone succeeds when the customer is at the center of your efforts.

Aniisu K. Verghese is an award-winning employee communications and social responsibility practitioner, author, speaker and trainer with over 20 years of experience in leading multinational organizations. He is the author of Internal Communications – Insights, Practices and Models, and is passionate about engaging communicators and students through workshops, speaking engagements, teaching assignments and blogging. He has served on the International Association of Business Communicator (IABC)’s South India Chapter Board, the SABRE Awards - South Asia Jury and the IABC’s Gold Quill Asia Pacific Award panel. Aniisu is the recipient of the 2015 PR Hall of Fame Award from the Public Relations Council of India. He can be reached at his blog, website or Linkedin. Views expressed in this post are personal.