Break out of the Boardroom

image curtesy of Paško Tomić via flickr
image courtesy of Paško Tomić via flickr

The scene: a conference table long enough to rival a wealthy King’s feasting table during the Renaissance, ergonomic swivel chairs to support the most significant backbones of the company, a flat screen TV ready to project the most impressive graphs, and the speakerphone connecting to c-level attendees in other offices. This is where the magic happens. Here is where the most disruptive ideas are formed… Or so we’ve grown to believe. But is it true?

A study by Idea Champions showed that only 3% of the people surveyed came up with their best ideas at work, while the other 97% found their best ideas came while focused on other things – like taking a shower, washing dishes, or going for a run (source). With the best ideas growing so far from the boardroom, perhaps it’s time to develop a new model for cultivating innovation.

Google growth products like gmail, came out of what they called “20% time.” One day a week, employees were encouraged to focus on their google-related passions over their regularly scheduled work (source). Showing all employees that a major part of their job is to step outside of what has already been conceived of, and think about the future of the company increases opportunity for innovation in numbers, and in attitude. Innovation must be promoted amongst employees.

Getting from an isolated idea to an implementable plan means time for suggestion and rebuttal, for reformation and consideration. The good comes with the bad, never alone. A team of innovators needs to know that time devoted to innovations that are fond to be un-implementable and ideas that get thrown out are still a valuable use of their time.

Ancient Greek citizens debating philosophy on city steps and early American settlers discussing the establishment of town laws all understood that time to debate and develop is crucial to success. Innovation comes about in cycles. A work environment where innovation from employees of all positions is encouraged, and common needs to be well maintained. We’ve already discussed encouraging innovation from employees in all positions and the time required for a culture of innovation to bare fruit. Implementation is also important – employees won’t commit to innovation if they do not see the ideation of their peers being put into action.

Register for an upcoming webinar featuring Joe Brummer, Community Mediation, Inc., on the language behind a sustainable culture of innovation. Register for, Creating a Culture of Innovation: Communication Strategies for Innovators here.

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