Should You Devote One Day Per Month To Innovation?

by drjim on January 29, 2015

Steve Jobs Believed In Innovation

Steve Jobs Believed In Innovation
Image Credit: Celestine Chua

I’m pretty sure that by now your management has more than once asked you to get your team to be more innovative. I’m pretty sure that we’re all on board here, I mean who wouldn’t want to have the IT manager skills that would allow your team to come up with better ideas? However, the problem is that it’s never been all that clear just exactly HOW we are supposed to be more innovative. It turns out that the secret to solving this problem might have something to do with how we use our time…

One Day Per Month

If this innovation thing is really important to you (and your management), it sure seems like you should be willing to make a serious commitment to it. This means carving out a section of your time to spend doing innovation stuff. This, of course, leads to the really big question – just exactly how much time should you be spending on being innovative? I’m sad to say that most IT manager training doesn’t give us the answer to this question.

I can’t tell you that I’ve got a magical answer that will work for everyone. However, I do have a proposal to make. It goes like this: take one day each month and dedicate both your time and your teams time to focusing on nothing but innovation for that entire day. Hey, I didn’t say that this was going to be easy!

If you did take a day off each month to be innovative, what would that really mean for you and your team? First off, it means that your phones are set on “silent” for one full day. Nobody gets to check their email – this includes you! Next, you’ll need to gather the entire team together for the day. The goal is to focus on innovation and you don’t want anything else getting in your way.

What To Do During That Day

Great, you’ve decided to take your team offline for a full day and you’ve pulled them together. Ok, let’s make that innovation thing happen! As you may have guessed, it really doesn’t happen like that. Your job as an IT manager is to create an environment in which innovation can happen – you can’t actually make it happen. Think of this as sorta an innovation-based IT team building exercise.

In order to provide the opportunity for innovation to visit your team, what you can do is many different things. What you really want to do is to provide your team with a chance to develop their creativity – this is what causes innovation to happen. This can be done by having the team play a game. Get the members of your team to talk about something that they really like – everyone may be surprised by how different they all are!

One other thing that you might want to tackle during these innovation sessions are things that are causing your team problems. No, you don’t want to allow the session to turn into one big complaint session. However, if there is something that is causing the team problems, now is the time to have the entire team search for creative ways to address this type of problem.

What All Of This Means For You

That innovation thing that we all want to happen for our team needs just a little bit of help from us in order to show up. If we don’t find the time to allow our team to work at being innovative, then we’re never going to be able to reap the benefits of innovative thinking.

In order make innovation happen for your team, one thing that you can do is to pick a day each month and dedicate it as being your “innovation day” . On that day, you can have your team unplug and disconnect from everything else. Once they’ve done this, you can bring them together and the team can spend its time being innovative.

Innovation will not occur by itself. As the IT manager, you are going to have to find ways to allow innovation to work its way into your team. Dedicating time to being innovative is one way to make it happen. Give this suggestion a try and see if indeed it can transform your team into an innovation engine!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think one day a month is enough – should you be spending more time on being innovative?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m pretty sure that by now your management has more than once asked you to get your team to be more innovative. I’m pretty sure that we’re all on board here, I mean who wouldn’t want to have the IT manager skills that would allow your team to come up with better ideas? However, the problem is that it’s never been all that clear just exactly HOW we are supposed to be more innovative. It turns out that the secret to solving this problem might have something to do with how we use our time…

As IT managers, it’s our responsibility to use our IT manager skills and our IT teams to ensure that the company’s tools and IT systems are always up and operating correctly. If those tools are the primary way that the company makes money, then our job is doubly important. That’s why a recent system error that occurred on options exchanges run by IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) should capture our attention.

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