I just read a truly interesting HBR article that focused on the role of management versus team members themselves in fostering an environment of creativity and innovation.
Most of the discussions today in this space, at least in my experience, are focused towards leadership or management being responsible for innovation. That is – in setting up the environment
Very little of the focus is team ward. In that, the team bears some responsibility for its own behavior, energy, and focus towards innovation.
The HBR article had some survey data that puts “the blame” squarely on both shoulders – that of “management” and the “team” in establishing the right climate.
In my view, that’s the right focus since we all play a part in creating an environment of experimentation, innovation, and creativity.
A few weeks ago I saw an article on LinkedIn that Google had decided to drop its 20% time for its teams. If you’ve been living under a rock, this is one of the most referenced (and admired practices) at Google. In essence, every engineer was allowed to spend/invest 20% of their work time on project(s) that interested them. It was a creativity and innovation incubator of sorts. Teams would surround the “best ideas” and work on this with 20% time. As experiments would show merit, they might make it into the core products or leveraged as a new tool, technique, or method. And no, 20% time did not mean that employees worked 120% of the requisite time. It was an 80/20 split and not intended as a project schedule accelerator.
Now they’ve changed policies. Innovation is being focused more on specific teams working in labs, so more centralized. And 20% time is now jokingly referred to as 120% time as Google’s official policy hasn’t been to “remove it”, just to move it to discretionary—in each employees “spare time”. It’s too bad really, because this policy was truly inspirational to many companies.