How does an organisation balance the needs of its day to day business operations with a desire or need to innovate?
Often there is no budget for innovation so it can be difficult to make innovation part of everyday life when the bean counters demand that everything is charged to a cost centre.
This is the big dilemma, the trade-off between money and the time that we need to ‘steal’.
Most organisations understand the need for innovation, even if it sometimes means very different things. We all find it hard to run skunk projects as they are usually carried out below the radar (often adhoc in nature and poorly managed) as we generally put the need to get maximum value out of our day to day jobs above the need to create the profitable revenue streams of the future.
Some organisations set up research and development or new product development departments but this has the effect of concentrating innovation effort in one place and isolates such ventures from inputs from throughout the organisation or business.
Successful organisations such as 3M and Pfizer have set up such departments or structures but they also allow employees to spend some of their time on skunk projects. Often this is a percentage of the hours worked by an employee but a percentage of what? There are some immovable and time gobbling activities in most organisations so 10% of not a lot might be less than not a lot!
So how can we sort this? Well how about innovating using flexi time? Many organisations have flexi time to cope with the fact that employees work extra hours and wish to take the time off later, maybe have a 3 day weekend.
What if we used this time in a different way. If you accumulated a few days of flexi and some our colleagues had done the same then maybe you could work on an innovation or skunk project for a few days (using company resources, lab etc).
As a reward for developing potential future revenue streams employees could be rewarded for their loss of vacation by the opportunity to have a stake in these revenue streams (bonuses or shares etc).
This is just one potential way, but could your business innovate on Flexi Time?