The Innovation Centre team often work with clients to tackle specific problems, and will help them explore what innovative things other organisations are doing who have gone through a similar issue. We find that looking out into the world—across all industries—is a great start to triggering new ideas and thinking differently about challenges.
Internally as a team, we like to practise what we preach in our workshops, and take learnings from other organisations who are winning at innovation—especially when it comes to culture.
Instilling a culture in a team isn’t just as easy as 1, 2, 3; but there are certainly some quick-wins that can be adopted to start building those foundations in an agile way. Here are a few simple yet effective ideas we have decided to try out as a team:
No meeting Mondays
Or Tuesdays… or any day.
Meetings are normal to most people’s work lives. Collaboration can be the source of many innovative and creative ideas, but often we can feel like we have too many commitments in our diaries to leave any time to "think." Kate Winslow initiated a "no meeting day" when she became CEO of Aria Healthcare, and the Innovation Centre team have followed suit. Having a day of no commitments allows us to recharge, focus on creative thinking, and give time to other projects we may not usually prioritise (such as writing this blog post).
Going back to my point on collaboration being an important source of innovative outputs, creative thinking can often be dampened in meetings when they’re held in boring rooms with conventionally structured agendas. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner led the way with walking meetings, swearing that they decrease distractions, and enhance energy and ideas. We as a team have printed out our own maps of walking routes in the City of London, and encourage team members to step outside (when they can) instead of sitting in a windowless office for their meetings. Some of the best ideas we’ve had so far have been generated out in the fresh air.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon instituted the "two-pizza" rule, where if two pizzas aren’t enough to feed your team, your team is too large. This has encouraged the use of small, 5-7 people teams.
Although we are a team of 25+, and don’t eat pizza every day (sob), we’ve taken note of this strategy, and divide into smaller "squads" to work on different projects concurrently. With smaller "squads" working together, it gives a sense of autonomy and allows us to generate stronger ideas, while listening to the "quiet voices" that can often be overshadowed in larger groups.
Instilling an innovative culture can be a lengthy task, but taking those baby steps and finding some simple actions that can easily be made are half the battle.
What quick-wins could you make to a more collaborative and creative team? What could you learn from other organisations to take those first steps toward change?