Time for innovation: why corporations need to create new solutions and inspire their employees to do the same

In today's world, technological change is happening at breakneck speed. Never before has business had to react so quickly and respond via developing innovation. They are crucial to any business sphere and promptly help to address the challenges better and more efficiently, and increase the competitive potential of companies.

The power industry is not an exception. This industry also appreciates off-pattern approaches to equipment modernization, new ways of using electricity - brisk development of RES, as well as storage devices. The climate agenda is also of significant importance.

Working in this area, a company can follow the path of delegation, when the main task is assigned to the representatives of the innovation community, including both startups and scientific institutes. They work on ready-made solutions to be implemented and tested on a practical level. There are both advantages (support for young entrepreneurs, spurring development of the scientific industry, etc.) and disadvantages - the need for revisions, some extra time to train a third-party contractor in technological processes, and sometimes - high costs. There is another method not being inferior to delegation in terms of efficiency, but eliminating a number of disadvantages mentioned above - development of innovations within the company. The most powerful strategic reserve is the knowledge, skills, and initiatives of employees. The key role here is bound to the beliefs and values of the management, as well as the implemented management practices aimed at increasing the employees' open-mindedness to innovations and intensifying innovation processes.

A few years ago, EL5-Energo implemented the "lean production" improvement system. It allows each employee of the company to present their ideas for improving any process. The experts and technical committee assess the prospects, risks, determine the budget and then the proposal can be implemented.

To ensure that employees feel free to share their ideas and problems, the role of improvement system coordinator was introduced at each company’s branch. This is always an enterprising and active employee respected highly by the colleagues - he is responsible for the entire process: from inciting the creativity to evaluating the result. Over the 6 years of the system's existence, more than 4.5 thousand suggestions have been made, half of which have already been implemented.

Accelerator-style interaction is also popular: employees are grouped into teams and tasked with coming up with certain projects, from concept to implementation possibilities. For the company, this is an important way to unleash creative potential in the team and get interesting and effective ideas. This is how experts and innovators are identified - these are the people who implement new technologies and test new operating modes. They can also offer ideas to improve the existing developments and know better what requires improvement to obtain fast and high-quality results.

In innovations the"human factor" role prevails, because in the process of their development and implementation there is neither established algorithm nor tested model; here any action requires significant mental and psychological efforts. Therefore, a properly built motivation system is important, and money is far from being the main factor in this system.

At EL5-Energo, non-financial motivation is provided to increase the involvement of the company's employees in the process of submitting suggestions for improvements. Among the motivating ways there is provision of specially allocated parking lots, a separate meeting with the director of the production branch, the opportunity to take advanced training courses in any area chosen, and the role of a mentor and expert onproduction issues.


Why innovations are relevant not only for the technological success at the end of the day

Development of technologies and their implementation represent a challenging process requiring a realignment of the minds of business leadership and efforts to build a culture of innovation within the team. But a company willing to integrate them into its operations is also able to further impact its industry. A business encouraging creative initiatives from employees can cope much easier with internal and external crises, as well as to keep up with the times faster.