AECOM shares an innovation video it uses with new hires

How do you get employees on board with an innovation program?

AECOM_logoAt AECOM, an $8.2 billion architecture, construction, and engineering conglomerate headquartered in Los Angeles, Warwick Absolon is a fan of the intimate approach. Absolon is a manager of innovation and technology in the firm’s Australia & New Zealand region. “You need to get people comfortable with the idea that innovation can sometimes be ambiguous,” he says. “You may not be someone who invents things or files for patents, but innovation can be a slight tweak, a small change to the way we do things. It’s someone doing something new that they hope is going to add value. And it starts with an idea.”

Since 2011, Absolon has held about 150 small group discussions about innovation at AECOM in Australia and New Zealand to get people comfortable sharing new ideas, and build more organizational support for them. “We made the discussions as un-corporate as possible. No PowerPoint, no registration, not compulsory,” he says. “Just a whiteboard, and between five and twenty people in attendance talking about what innovation is at AECOM.” Absolon would spend a week in each of the company’s five big offices in the region, running the 45-minute discussions over the course of an entire workday. “People could pick and choose which hour would be best for them,” he says. That undercut the excuse of being too busy, or being scheduled for something when the innovation workshop was happening.

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