Giving your project team a little slack might seem an unusual way to boost their creativity and productivity but enabling them to try new things can reap huge dividends when it comes to motivation and more.
In order to be innovative, you need to adopt a prototyping mentality that is very different from the more commonly used efficiency mentality. Innovation needs freedom, time, and the mindset where mistakes are okay. It isn’t always easy to be wrong with your first try of something, but it is only through making mistakes that you can find better solutions. Whilst it may go against some of what you’ve been taught when you’ve attended training for project managers, cutting your team some slack can often produce some great solutions to problems that crop up along the way.
Most organisations who look at innovations have their own policies in place which allow them to commit resources in particular talent and time, to projects where there may not be an immediate consequence. This isn’t something that should be considered as just a one-off practise but rather as something that is part of the culture within the organisation.
Google, for example, operates a 20% time-off practise, a concept if has borrowed from another big name. This policy requires that staff who are engaged in the technology and engineering functions spend 20% of their time working on projects that are not part of their assignment. They also have a requirement for managers as well and that sees them spending up to 70% of their time on core business, 20% on related projects that are different, and 10% on new products and businesses.
Many of their innovative ideas are the ones that have been created during this 20% time. What Google have found happens is these individuals done stray too far from their core skills, but they do get the opportunity to work on ideas that they might have been thinking about.
Work with the resources you have
One of the skills needed in project management is the ability to designate the best team member to each task that you have at hand. That doesn’t just mean going by what you already know about your team members, but also spotting those skills that can be developed further. If you don’t tie up all of your resources in the visible opportunities that you have and exploit those existing opportunities that you should be able to bring in a different way of doing things within the organisation. If you want effective problem solving, then you need divergence before there can be convergence on any particular areas of problems.
Instead of waiting for complete clarity start with some uncertainty. If you allow the members of your team to go off on a tangent once in a while, good things could very well end up happening. If you want to nurture this type of creativity, then you need to move away from a culture that is based solely on efficiency and rigidity.