Have You Got Time to Innovate?

For some years now, members of our innovation community have been meeting to discuss what the inhibitors are that prevent their organisations from being truly innovative and not just delivering incremental improvements.

The message that keeps coming out is that if you truly want to be innovative then you must allow individuals (and not just in your development section) the time to innovate. Most of you know that my background is with 3M and I find it hard to consider how organisations can expect to be innovative if they don’t give their employees time to innovate.

Whether it be Roche’s iTime, Google’s 20% or 3M’s 15%, the amount of time allocated is almost meaningless. It is the permission for all employees to find the time to innovate. This permission encourages you to explore, it encourages you to network and it encourages you to experiment under the covenant:

“that it is always better to ask for forgiveness than permission”

Humans have the wonderful ability of filling up the available time with the tasks at hand. That’s why if you want something done, managers have learned that it is better to give it to a busy person than one who is not.

So for an organisation to be innovative, challenge your employees to have two jobs. One is to complete the assigned tasks for today’s business; the other is to work on their job of tomorrow to ensure that individuals are thinking about their “tomorrow’s role” and what value it will deliver in the future.

As you are reading this, you are most probably thinking but I’m flat out with today’s role and I couldn’t possibly find the time to even think about tomorrow – and you are most probably right. In reality, early on in my career with 3M my 15% was typically done on weekends etc. However as I developed the skills for the two jobs, more and more of tomorrow came into today and through that I became more agile and able to change roles/tasks etc that ensured my and 3M’s viability for the future.

To find out more about the benefits of collaborating with peers outside your industry/network, just say ‘HI‘.

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