Is America losing its innovation edge?
If so, the reason could be because managers and employees are not on the same page in developing new ideas.
Specifically, many employees think they have a good idea, but their managers won't listen to them. In their defense, managers say these ideas often are out in left field with no real focus or value to the company.
In a recent study, Accenture found that 69% of employees believe that this country will lose its entrepreneurial edge over foreign employers in the next 10 years unless companies focus more on encouraging employees to pursue innovative ideas.
But Accenture research also finds that corporate leaders find it difficult to channel the entrepreneurial enthusiasm to the right areas with 85% reporting that employee ideas are mostly aimed at internal improvements rather than external ones.
Matt Reilly, managing director at Accenture, says he was surprised at the gap between what employees say about presenting entrepreneurial ideas and what executives report receiving.
Some of the problem is because managers may pose "What do you think?" queries to workers without clearly defining what the problem is and what they're seeking in terms of innovative ideas, he says. If managers put up "guardrails" clearly defining their needs, workers would understand the limits and provide better solutions.
Clearly workers have at least some frustration with the process: While the Accenture survey of 800 corporate employees finds that 52% say they've pursued an entrepreneurial idea at work, only 20% believe that their employer offers enough support to develop ideas.
That frustration may be further compounded because of reports from companies like Apple and Google that they give workers the support they need to focus on new ideas. But Reilly points out that such employers have big operating margins, which means "they get to play around more because their currency is employee brainpower."
Other employers operating on tighter margins may have less time and resources to devote to entrepreneurial ideas, he says.
While workers have an entrepreneurial drive, the survey reveals that 36% say they're too busy in their jobs to pursue innovative ideas, and 13% say their employers don't offer incentives to spur them into coming up with entrepreneurial ideas. Twenty percent of those surveyed say the lack of management support inhibits their initiative for innovation.
If they do propose entrepreneurial ideas, 77% of workers report they're rewarded only if the idea is put in place and proven to work, causing 27% to avoid pursuing innovative ideas because they fear negative consequences, the survey finds.
Could that lack of support for entrepreneurial ideas drive employees to take their ideas elsewhere or start their own companies?
The Department of Labor estimates that 2 million Americans leave their jobs voluntarily every month and that number may rise as the (read more here)