4 Innovation Tactics to Adopt – KANE’s Exponential Power of an Idea

by Jessica Day

4 Innovation Tactics to Adopt - KANE’s Exponential Power of an IdeaKANE (Kane Is Able, Inc.), a leading third-party logistics provider that works with consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies throughout the U.S., is proving to be a leader in innovation.

They’ve been redefining the way they do business for years now, and they have always sourced genius throughout their organization. But in the past year, they started doing things a little differently – launching an online, associate-generated idea management system: IdeaScale. They’d be the first to tell you, however, that their success is only partly due to the tool. It also has to do with the culture and processes of innovation that they instill throughout their nationwide business.

First, just a few quick facts about the company’s achievements since implementing the program in summer of 2012:

  • In just three months, the company received the same number of ideas that it usually received over the course of a year.
  • KANE has moved more than 400 of the collected ideas through to completion. Far above the industry average.
  • KANE approved several ideas that resulted in savings that met 100% of their annual goal for company-wide savings resulting from associate-generated ideas.

The implemented ideas have covered a range of improvements (things like locking in low heating rates for the winter or adding additives to the gas tanks in their vehicles). But what’s truly interesting is how they’re continuing the conversation even after an idea has been implemented. And the good news is that these are things that any organization with an open ideation program can do.

  1. Regular, High-Level Conversation. Every month, the leaders of each department gather for a conference, in which they share and discuss their top two IdeaScale ideas from their department with the rest of the team (including the CEO). The presentation includes a review of the idea, its status, and the potential savings or impact that it could have on the company. It helps to socialize the changes that are being made and to workshop those ideas for potential improvements. It also keeps the program top-of-mind so that department leaders continue to discuss the forum with their associates.
  1. Idea Sharing (what’s good for the goose…). As each department leader shares the ideas they are implementing, the rest of the team listens in to hear the good it’s doing and to evaluate whether or not it’s right for them, as well. In this way, changes that have served one department well can become company-wide changes. But it really reflects a more entrenched and well-served belief that values listening to ideas.
  2. Online Inspiration, Offline Executions. For future iterations of their innovation program, KANE is exploring the idea of lunchtime workshops or in-person idea author consultations, so that leadership can match faces to ideas. Not only does this nurture an idea’s growth, but it communicates that a business is really listening to the ideas of its contributors. We’ve also seen that institutions that engage members not just online, but offline as well see higher levels of engagement
  3. Senior Level Buy-In. KANE’s CEO was the person who initially tasked the company with an idea threshold and the goal of 1% company-wide savings from employee-generated ideas. He’s also attending meetings and connecting with moderators to show his support of the program’s growth. This level of involvement communicates to everyone the importance of participating in the program.

In the same way that harvesting grain isn’t the same thing as putting bread on the table, gathering ideas doesn’t simply lead to innovation and organizational change. KANE clearly understands that bringing about change requires an ongoing, company-wide commitment to making a difference and listening at every level.

To learn more about the KANE IdeaScale implementation, read the case study here.

How has your company institutionalized innovation?

image credit: franklycurious.com

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