New Initiative Tapping Into Frontline Innovation

New Initiative Tapping Into Frontline Innovation

WINDSOR, ON (February 27, 2019)WEtech Alliance is unveiling a new initiative called Innovation Catalyst, which trains frontline staff in large companies and organizations across Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent to become internal engines of innovation.

ENWIN Utilities was the first organization to complete the program, with Schlegel Villages long-term care and the Greater Essex County District School Board currently in the pilot program.

“We know our employees have the hands-on expertise to drive improvements in customer service and efficiency,” says Helga Reidel, the CEO of ENWIN. “Innovation Catalyst provided the training to hone those ideas, as well as a platform for frontline staff to get their ideas heard at the top.”

Each company recruits fifteen staff representing different departments to be trained, as Innovation Catalysts, in the process and practise of innovative thinking. For ENWIN that included staff from their call centre, line crews, warehousing, logistics, HR and IT, among others. The catalysts then fan-out into the organization searching for challenges and improvements, which they bring back and refine into solutions before wrapping them in a business case that they pitch to the CEO and the Executives.

“I was very impressed by the quality and creativity of our employees’ pitches, but what stood out for me is the level of teamwork across departments,” says Reidel. “We are now in the process of implementing a number of the innovations that were presented, and we couldn’t be more pleased.” 

In addition to generating ideas that improve service and efficiency, Innovation Catalyst improves employee engagement.

“It was an incredibly rewarding process, says Justin Pulleyblank, ENWIN’s Supervisor of Water Distribution. “From day one it was apparent that our executive team valued the ideas we were bringing forward. When you know you’re being heard and taken seriously, that’s very encouraging and motivating.”

What makes Innovation Catalyst unique, compared to other corporate innovation boot-camps that are typically held over a weekend, is the intensity and duration of the program, which takes up to one year to complete.

“We slow cook innovation,” says Adam Frye, the Director of Business Innovation at WEtech Alliance who runs the program. “We take time to make sure we bring on organizations that are ready to make that commitment to their frontline staff.”

Innovation Catalyst targets larger organizations and companies, both public and private, no matter the sector – whether manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare or education.

“Innovation increases prosperity in our region by strengthening companies and organizations from within,” says Yvonne Pilon, President and CEO of WEtech Alliance. “Companies we talk to are looking to tap into the innovation potential of their frontline staff, and at the same time they look to increase employee engagement and retention”.

WEtech Alliance is actively seeking the next candidates for Innovation Catalyst.