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The Virality of Innovation

Posted, by Deborah Merkin
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We use disease related terms to communicate how things, whether it is is the next pop hit, or the flu travel through our networks. As we begin to understand the importance and the value of networks within organizations, we begin to understand how organizations can capitalize on how employees interact, and what the quality of those interactions is. Employers and organizations always want to spread innovation. That is what drives any business forward, and keeps employees engaged and satisfied with their jobs. Organizationally, the biggest challenges can be how to figure out how to pass innovation virally, both up and down hierarchies and across teams. It has been proven by Nicholas Christakis, a medical school professor at Harvard, and his team, that high value employees have wide networks within their organizations and when they find an innovative idea or process they spread it both within their working unit, and across the organization. While some employees would want to hide innovation, in order to claim all of their glory of finding it their own, high value employees seek out different points of view within the organization to test their idea and gain criticism to hone their idea and further innovate to make it better. This philosophy uses the same principles of the virality of that pop song, or the way we all seem to be catching the flu this time of year, and applies it to ideal scenarios within an organization. The promotion of these philosophies can be extremely cost effective within your organization. There is no need to invest a lot in this. Promoting viral innovation can be applied by workshops, or "innovation days" in which employees can be put into teams or introduced to other people within the organization that they do not normally work with. Organizations could even award a small prize for the "innovation day" group that came up with the best idea, incenting employees to better the organization, as they expand their network. Providing a new work environment for a short time-frame allows employees to think differently and expand their networks, making them more valuable to your organization.
For more information on Nicholas Christakis' theory on viral innovation check out this article from FastCompany.

Topics: Employee Recognition, Rewards & Loyalty, Employee Engagement, General Gift Card, Employee Incentives & Rewards

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