The mindset at forward-thinking companies is to see employees not as worker drones but as a mine of brilliant ideas. This represents the move from an industrial society to the ideas economy. In fact the concept is so widely-accepted you’d be as likely to see it employed in the offices of multinationals as you would at a San Francisco start-up.
I read that even the US Government has got in on the act creating an idea lab with the White House demanding federal agencies tap into employees’ creative ideas. But when government departments jump on the bandwagon, could it be a case of innovation for the sake of innovation’s sake? Is there a downside to being a buzzword?
In the case of the US Government, what seems to have happened is that since 2010, various departments have embraced the idea of innovation labs as a way to solve problems that would previously have taken dedicated committees and perhaps years of red tape to get around. So it’s hard to knock that: according to nextgov.com, it began with the Department of Veterans Affairs launching its Center for Innovation, then came similar initiatives from the Office of Personnel Management and the Agency for International Development.
All pretty yawnsome stuff, but you can’t knock the thinking when The White House said that: “In many cases, the best ideas for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of government operations, from hospital patient intake processed to benefits processing, come from tapping the expertise of federal employees.” The White House also launched a ‘National Week of Making’ in June 2015.
So innovation is all around us. But is that a good thing or not?
Well, one thing I’d day is that ubiquity doesn’t necessarily level the playing field. If innovation and creativity are indeed so widely practised, then it stands to reason that some of the organisations who have embraced it will be better at it than others. And the ones doing well will likely be trying harder than everyone else, have better understanding of the tools than everyone else, and will have the best processes in place for seeing their magic through to fruition.
So if you find that your clients, your contemporaries, and even your local council are trying to out-creative you, it’s worth considering whether an innovation lab or concerted focus on creativity is for you.
If your team is a bunch of creative hot-shots and you want to keep them that way, we offer tailored courses that can help your team stay on top of their game. Please get in touch with Lucy