In the rapidly evolving energy sector, innovation plays a critical role in driving efficiency, sustainability, and competitiveness. For Transmission System Operators (TSOs), embracing innovation is especially crucial as they navigate the complexities of integrating renewable energy sources, managing supply and demand, and ensuring the stability of the power grid. This article delves into the importance of an integrated approach to building innovation capabilities in a company. One that considers the cultural aspect and process aspect of fostering innovation and cooperation.
Our client, a large company in the energy sector has recently established a new organizational unit, dedicated to fostering and managing innovation in a company and a comprehensive process of innovation management. However, the engagement and willingness of employees to participate in innovation projects were still low. Innovation projects within a company were usually led by teams of employees from different organizational units. This presented a problem as people were not very used to cooperating with other organizational units. Another problem was that when people were assigned to innovation projects, their regular workload stayed the same which meant that because of the innovation project, people often had too much work and had to work overtime. Due to these problems, the company decided to hire outside help to improve the company’s innovation culture.
By analysis of past innovation projects and initiatives and by organizing workshops with employees from all organizational units, where we talked about problems employees see regarding company innovation culture and process, we were able to conduct a snapshot of the current situation. We concluded that the biggest potential for improvement was in the company reward system, cooperation between organizational units, and availability of employees in terms of workload management. Based on these findings we proposed a set of measures aimed at improving the situation in these areas. We developed a concept of the new employee reward system that applies only to innovation activities and considers the effort, results, and workload of employees in innovation projects. We also proposed a new process for lowering and re-distributing the workload of employees that participate in innovation projects. As the company was not yet actively measuring its innovation culture, we also proposed a regular assessment of innovation culture with a specially designed questionnaire. Overall we proposed 13 comprehensive measures for improving the current challenges connected to innovation culture, and for building and improving the company culture long term. For all the aforementioned measures we prepared a detailed implementation plan that included a set of activities needed to implement the measure, a list of people responsible for each activity, defined major milestones, and a timeline for tracking the success of implementation.
Establishing a robust innovation process and clear rules is undeniably important for driving progress in innovation within a company. However, these mechanisms alone will not yield the desired results if they are not underpinned by a company culture that genuinely supports and embraces innovation. To foster sustainable innovation, organizations must cultivate a mindset that encourages collaboration and adaptability and brings down the silo mentality. By nurturing such an environment, companies can unlock their potential for innovation and remain at the forefront of their industries, continually adapting to the business landscape.