Time for Innovation

Posted on: January 6, 2010

Who’s got time for innovation? How many of us deliberately take the time to sit back, look at what we’re doing, and think about ways to do it better or do something else?

The classic problem with many organisations is that everyone is working so hard on today’s crisis or this month’s targets that they never feel that they can take the time to think about anything else. The end result is that we end up doing ‘more of the same’ each and every day – instead of trying anything new. And that’s a not going to support our competitive edge in the long run.

Famously, companies like 3M and Google are very open about this. When you work for Google your employment contract allows you to spend one day a week on any idea you like. It’s a wide open space – a space for experimenting, exploring and developing breakthrough ideas like Google Earth and Gmail that have helped to keep that company at the top of its game.

Many organisations can’t afford to give employees that much exploration time – but the general principle is of fundamental importance to all of us.

We need to set aside time to come up with ideas and explore them, and leaders need to make sure that employees feel empowered to do this. Staring into space for half an hour can sometimes be far more productive than ‘proper work’.


1 Response to "Time for Innovation"

This week I’ve had a number of meetings cancelled due to the snow and treacherous travel conditions.

The optimism of a New Year, following time for reflection over the Christmas break, and the hours unexpectedly ‘freed up’ by the snow, have created a perfect storm for ideation and creative thought.

Let’s make innovation our New Year’s resolution, and use this chilly time to give it a kick start!

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