79% of CEOs say a lack of key skills is threatening the future growth of their organization. Does that ring true for your team?
When you think about innovation and digital transformation, are you confident that you have the right skills to identify opportunities for improvement, implementation, support, and scale automation?
Citizen Led Innovation may be the approach to help ensure that you are empowering and enabling your team to not only support and accept change within your organization but lead it.
Samuel Best, VP of Business Automation at GM Financial, joined us to explain what Citizen Led Innovation is, how it’s different than Citizen Development, and why it’s critical to support innovation and reskilling employees.
What is Citizen Innovation & Why It's Critical to Reskill Your Employees
According to the Harvard Business Review:
“Citizen-led innovation isn’t about employees doing whatever they want. Nor is it aimed at reducing headcount or replacing people with automations or AI. It’s about helping employees evolve with their jobs.
That calls for a different kind of leadership—one where leaders encourage rather than mandate, inspire rather than require. It’s about showing people that you’re committed to giving people permission to experiment, to play with what they’ve learned, and to try new things—and the freedom to use time on the job to do so. And it calls for giving people the autonomy to apply that learning right away, so it feels meaningful and relevant.”
Democratize Your Innovation to Recognize Greater Business Value
Culture of Ownership
For Citizen Led Innovation to take root, you have to start with a culture shift. You can no longer centralize your approach to automation and innovation to a small group within your organization. Instead, you must instill a sense of ownership in your employees so they can adopt a Process-Focused mindset.
This approach takes time, and Sam suggests that you start with a few departments or core applications that can support this new focus and approach to automation and process improvement. The results? You will see what works, what challenges you face over time, and eventually, you will generate a snowball effect. Suddenly the program and ideals will gain natural momentum and grow over time.
As low and no-code solutions continue to gather traction, the discussion surrounding Citizen Development is not going away. As Sam mentions in the interview, upskilling your team to configure low code applications can accelerate the time to value for many automation efforts.
Citizen Development is not without its challenges. But with the right approach and governance, it can increase the velocity of new solution deployment. But it is important to note that low-code solutions are tools that require the appropriate training to be successful. Shige Sato, Co-Founder and CEO of Argos Labs, uses the analogy of a knife to describe low-code applications:
“Technology is only a tool, just like a knife. If I give you a knife, you can cut your vegetables, but then if you give the knife to a very experienced chef he cuts very differently. Low-code technology still requires a skill set and these skill sets includes an understanding of the business processes, but Low-code reduces the years and years of training you have to go through to learn programming languages.”
Foster a Process Mindset
When automation is done right, a new set of skills is needed. When we remove manual routing and predictable processes from the day-to-day task list of employees, they can focus on exceptions, customer service, new product offerings, and improving other areas of operations. These valuable tasks require more critical thinking, empathy, creativity, and a process mindset.
Providing training that focuses on these skills will help your employees feel more comfortable stepping into their new roles. You can approach this effort using tools like Six Sigma training or extending opportunities to tune up customer service skills.
Take the time to teach your employees how to make data driven decisions, and involve them in the discovery process as you tackle new automation projects. This way, they will get to experience first-hand how to innovate and think big!
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