Sunday, July 16, 2006

Breeding Innovation

I keep thinking about a workplace that is conducive for innovation. What kind of environment helps people innovate?
Thoughtworks is one place i felt has fairly achieved it. An environment where people can express their ideas and opinions with out any apprehensions, is what probably breeds innovation. If organizations have environment where people have to blindly follow processes/hierarchies, they stop thinking. The best analogy i can think of is; all the rituals and religious things we do without knowing the actual significance of it. Some of them really made sense at that point of time but not now. A community is all about reviewing and adapting to changes. An Organization is nothing but a community. Its easier said than done but thats what the challenge is all about.
Some of the key things about environments conducive to innovation are
  1. Transparent/Open environment: As mentioned earlier, an environment which encourages people to express their opinion/ideas. Important thing is that people should not have any fear that it will be used against them.
  2. Confidence in youngsters we have hired: If this is missing, we start taking inputs only from people who have experience or rather old. Stereo typical mentality is that people with out experience will not be able to contribute at higher levels. I feel the other way is true. Some times old people have thoughts of their generation which do not hold good during present times.
  3. Open feedback: if people cannot accept feedback/criticism about their ideas and take it personally, its a major hurdle for innovation.
  4. Meritocracy:a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement not based on their age.