3 Things Keeping Your Team From Innovating

by Kelly Anthony

When was the last time your department’s best new idea came at the end of a day of data entry or back-to-back status meetings? History’s greatest innovators regularly tout the importance of creating space for reflection and deep thought to unlock their best ideas, yet employees are busier than ever and logging increasing hours.

Even with longer hours, workers report they spend 25% of their time on repetitive, low-value tasks. This takes significant time away from high-value, innovative work. So what’s at the root of this rampant repetitive work? Rework caused by human error, suboptimal meeting culture, and email overload are three of the biggest factors preventing your team from maximizing their potential.

To gain a competitive edge, organizations must find a solution to manual, repetitive work and double down on innovation. Here’s a look at what’s keeping your team from innovation and what you can do about it.

Great Ideas Are Stifled By Human Error

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Discrepancies caused by a simple mistake can have huge ripple effects, whether they stem from a cross-functional process breakdown or inaccurate data entry. Identifying inaccurate details and replacing them with up-to-date information is incredibly tedious, and can often be credited to a colleague referencing an outdated spreadsheet or incorrectly keying information from one enterprise software system to another.

There’s hope, however: human error due to data entry can be prevented with workplace automation. Sixty-six percent of respondents in the Smartsheet Automation Report state that human error is one of the biggest problems automation can address in the workplace. By automating simple workflows, such as budget approval requests or IT ticket requests, your organization can realize significant time savings.

With automated workflows, you can create multi-step approvals and reach different groups of stakeholders by combining multiple actions in a single workflow. In addition, a work execution platform that lets stakeholders create intake forms for entering information and other key data can help reduce manual entry errors.

Suboptimal Meeting Culture Wastes Time

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When days are packed with back-to-back meetings, merely keeping up with your inbox can feel like an insurmountable challenge. And forget about carving out time to make space for deep thinking and creative work. Scheduled group brainstorms don’t count as a workaround, as research shows an alarming 63% of meetings have no planned agenda, resulting in meeting time dedicated to getting everyone up to speed, rather than collectively working through challenges.

Information workers are ready for a solution to this mess. Sixty-nine percent of survey respondents say that fixing broken meeting culture is one of the main problems they hope workplace automation will help to address.

Organizations that have deployed a work execution platform often use it to address meeting issues such as agenda documentation, automate reminders on next steps and status reports, and even eliminate unnecessary status meetings.

In addition, automation can help you save time and keep work moving forward so you hit your deadlines. For example, a work execution platform featuring recurring reminders — whether set up daily or weekly —  help ensure accountability for completing tasks. And automating status updates and approval requests through a centralized platform means you can spend less time in meetings, and when you have to, focus on action items that have an immediate impact.

The Bar Isn’t Raised Because of Email Overload

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Although IT decision makers acknowledge the importance of having a collaboration app strategy, and there is no shortage of collaboration app options on the market today, email usage continues to climb. Over-reliance on email chains the majority of organizations to their inboxes: a McKinsey study found that email can take up almost 30% of an employee’s time, and was ranked as the second most time-consuming activity at work.

While email can be an effective communication tool, it isn’t effective for work such as project or process management and often fails to keep the right people in the loop. Organizations that deploy a work execution platform can address these inefficiencies, and automate how they use email, such as reminders of upcoming milestones or requests for budget approval. In fact, the vast majority of workers expect this type of automation to help them be more efficient at their jobs.

Powerful work execution platforms enable you to automate status updates so that you can spend less time drilling down into email threads and more on work that adds business value. Cross-functional teams who work with many stakeholders need project or program transparency to establish consistency and accountability, so it’s important that the platform you adopt allows users to communicate in one place.

Automate to Innovate

These less-than-ideal working conditions add up to a staggering amount of time. For leaders looking to ensure relevance in the coming year, it’s time to address the challenges that prevent your employees from making space to do their best thinking and their best work.