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 percent 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 percent 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 percent say they’ve pursued an entrepreneurial idea at work, only 20 percent believe that their employer offers enough support to develop ideas.