Paper is paper no matter the industry. That’s what a South African client discovered when we converted a project team pursuing paperless solutions into an Innovation Team.
For months, the project team had been working on strategies to be more green and digital. These employees came from IT and accounting backgrounds and were used for linear thinking. When we converted the team to an I-team, they thought it would be a name change only. Project teams tend to focus on objectives and desired outcomes and typically use internal resources. Innovation Teams don’t have visible boundaries and are given license to look at and talk to external resources and options.
Permission to break the rules changed everything for this team.
Benchmarks of the Best
They started benchmarking other noncompetitive companies pursuing similar paperless initiatives. A site visit to a South African bank helped propel their paperless efforts producing breakthroughs and insights not seen before. Reaching out to others provides a new perspective that will almost always introduce new connections to solve problems.
Using Innovation Teams to focus on areas such as distribution or shipping can help identify new growth opportunities outside the company. Innovation Teams should have a senior sponsor that can help them define a clear charter or charge. They are then free to discover and identify best possible solutions – the ones that bring new insight or value.
Google gives its employees one day a week to work on pet projects, and the company leaders have discovered that 50 percent of innovative growth comes from that one day a week. 3M takes a similar approach, allowing researchers to spend 15 percent of their week on special projects. Scotch tape was developed from that work time.
If you make time for innovation, you will get innovative ideas. Convert those project teams, give them creative license and embrace their value. What have you got to lose?