When Dr. Amantha Imber first meets with potential new hires for her company, Inventium, one of things she’ll ask is: “What are your favorite apps?”
Imber, a psychologist and the founder of Inventium, an innovation consultancy in Australia, says that the question helps her to get a “quick sense of how tech-savvy and tech aware they are.”
“I often feel there is a bit of a link between someone being tech-savvy and being able to solve those little problems that come up every day at work,” she says.
Imber says that she sees a growing trend in companies – including her own – to let more employees develop their own solutions to help them be more innovative and productive. Technology is certainly part of that equation, allowing workers who are closest to a problem to come up with the right solution when they need it instead of always relying on someone from IT.
She stresses it’s also important that leaders are vocal in supporting such efforts, which helps set the tone that innovation is a critical part of everyone’s job – including the C-suite – and must be a priority.
“When leaders delegate innovation, it signals to other employees that these leaders are too ‘important’ to be working on innovation, and that it thus has a lower priority than other activities that they don’t decide to delegate,” she says. “We know from research that having a culture that encourages risk-taking and where failure is not thought of as a dirty word is critical for allowing innovation to thrive.”
She says that it’s not only companies like Google that can empower their workers to reach for new ideas. For example, any manager can help individual workers be more innovative, simply by giving (read more here)