Thursday, 16 September 2010

You might do R&D, but are you making time for E&D (Exploration and Discovery)?

We’re familiar with the notion of R&D departments in organisations, where products are innovated and developed. It’s a critical investment that gives businesses their edge. But how about an investment in personal discovery? Increasingly we’re locked down in demanding roles and projects, with no time to just stand back and reflect, free of an agenda. Some organisations have introduced initiatives to liberate staff from this kind of working culture. Google allows staff to spend 20% of time on their own projects as a way of developing talent. A small business I’m working with goes one stage further and encourages staff to develop their own ideas extra curricularly with hobby businesses. Another business I know is visionary in advocating that team member sit back and reflect from time to time, rather than be confined to head-down mode all day.

As well as nurturing talent, taking time to explore and discover can be the source of great ideas, adding value to projects and clients in ways that might otherwise have been missed. It’s in those moments of research or reflection that I get my own inspiration flashes. This month I’m aiming to create more E&D time, whether on train rides, in coffee shop thinking, even spending 15 minutes each morning reading the ‘papers. Whilst the tendency is to say ‘I’m too busy to read the newspapers’, these moments have actually been really valuable in spotting ideas and I’ve identified some tangible client opportunities in this way.
So invest in E&D time in your organisation: it could give your business that competitive edge or be the catalyst for a game-changing idea. Don’t say you’re too busy.

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