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Head (Organisational Excellence), Corporate Development and Emergency Preparedness Division, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
Let me give you some background. Our organisation had developed a new innovation framework aimed at building up an innovation culture, and this required full participation and involvement from all levels of the company. However, it was met with resistance from many rank-and-file staff, as well as most of the middle and senior management.
For rank-and-file employees, poor previous experiences, such as having their suggestions rejected without reason, led to their resistance.
While middle and senior managers were generally supportive of the scheme, many saw it as additional work that might distract them from their primary goals. Others deemed the initiative as “non-critical” and were reluctant to get too involved in championing the innovation movement.
In order to help staff understand and accept the change, we turned the innovation movement into a “journey” with three distinct phases: the awareness phase, the contribution phase and the entrenchment phase.
We began by providing a list of reasons why the initiative was introduced and how it would align to the vision and mission of the organisation.
Next, we revised and enhanced existing employee schemes to incentivise staff and generate participation. For example, we decided to make participation in each of the various schemes voluntary.
To ensure sustained staff interest and participation, we developed new activities to keep the movement “fun” for employees. We also regularly reviewed and updated the existing schemes and processes so that they remained attractive and easy to use.
To get further buy-in and ensure sustainability of the initiative, organisations can also employ the following strategies:
Create value for the various divisions by explaining how the new initiative will be able to help them achieve their own goals.
Identify activists from each division to assist management in championing the movement.
Develop a sustained publicity campaign to increase staff awareness.
Simplify existing processes to make submission of suggestions hassle-free, and also ensure suggestions are evaluated within a reasonable period of time.