India is a democratic country but does the organisation that you work for encourage you to follow democracy at work?
Let’s find out how you could operate on the principles of freedom by participating in the idea-generating initiatives planned for you by your employer.
The right to ideate
The innovation cell at HCL Technologies is called ‘Value Creation’. ‘Value Portal’ is a corporate-wide initiative designed to encourage, facilitate, manage and document innovations at HCL. The value creation ideas are logged in the ‘Value Portal’ and empowers the employee to think on innovative lines and generate value-add ideas.
At a global level, SAP Labs India too has specific programs (like Global Business Incubator), which scout for ideas from employees and work on them in conjunction with employees to productise the ideas. At the local level, they have programs like ‘SAP Genius’, ‘SAPNovation’, etc that enable employees to submit ideas, work on business case and prototype the ideas for further productisation. They have a forum called ‘Launch Pad’, wherein they invite customers/other stakeholders to evaluate ‘employee originated’ innovations. In the course of these processes, the employees in question are given special skill trainings, exposure to interacting with real experts in understanding market requirements and visibility to strategic perspectives of the senior management in terms of direction for development and roll-out.
3i Infotech has an innovation forum, ‘Eureka!’, an organisation-wide initiative aimed at kindling the spirit of innovation among all employees. The forum had run a contest called ‘Avishkaar’ to generate implementable innovative ideas that can lead to deliverable results. Experts say that such initiatives not only make the employees more productive, but also instill in them a sense of pride.
Microsoft India GTSC has launched an initiative called ‘1000 Watts Program’ with an objective to encourage employees to openly share ideas to improve the workplace. The idea submission happens over a four-week period and is known as ‘The Idea Submission Month’. On completion of the month, the ideas are collected and handed over to an employee panel for review. The ideas selected by this panel are then directed to the respective function leads for review and implementation. Ideas are selected by the functional leads based on impact and feasibility.
The employees take up activities within the organisation, based on their interests. The creative work done by these employees is out of a need they see and the effort towards this is done outside their hours of work and professional deliverables.
A few of them are
1) Engineer Dashboard: This is a tool built by a technical lead, to measure and display all information related to employee utilisation at work – time duration spent on a project, hours spent on training and readiness, documentation and so on. This helps the employees and their managers to measure their performance against their role targets and
2) File Cop: This is a tool built by a support engineer at Microsoft India GTSC to automate the process of creating workspaces and retrieving the necessary passwords. It is used by the support engineers at Microsoft India GTSC and has helped in saving time and automating a process that is otherwise tedious. We all want to exist in a place wherein freedom is preached and practiced, right? And a workplace where you are simply ‘free’ to ideate, innovate and execute will make you understand the true meaning of democracy at work.
A non-profit company specialising in organisational democracy feels that employees are more actively engaged in a company when they have a ‘voice’ in the decision-making process and feel that they matter as human beings, not just ‘cogs’ in a corporate machine. They have moved from the industrial age into the information age. And with information now being in the hands of the masses, not just in the hands of the elite, you have more power to the people, which has ushered in what is known is a democratic age.
This is an era of unprecedented collaboration and inter-global communication and influence, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Secondly, a democratic workplace is what Gen X & Y and knowledge workers in particular want. Knowledge workers expect to work in an environment that is peer-topper, not paternalistic. They want to express their intelligence, not be told what to do.