Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Inside the Cubicle but Outside the box

Cubicles in my opinion are the biggest deterants to constructive innovation in a company. Cubicles represent boxes and as long as one is to stay in his box, i guess there is very little chance that he can go out and think outside the box, go out and innovate!
The challenge however is to stick within the confines of ones cubicle (read as framework) and still manage to innovate. To be able to innovate has been,is now and will be absolutely necessary to remain on top. If one does not innovate, one needs to remember that the competition, trying to get on top all the time is sure to learn to do right things the new way!
The big question is how to strike a right balance to foster an environment that allows both pure innovation and experienced execution. While experience of the past teaches us how to do things rightly it becomes equally important to change things of experience regularly and consistently simply because the environment is ever changing consistently!
Some ideas one may use while inside his cubicle to allow innovation to co-exist within the framework.
1. Promote an environment of questioning.
Allow questions to lash out freely. Give peers and juniors the freedom to question seniors. Invent schemes to reward the questioning attitude. Promote a methodology of monthly feedback questionaires to circulate in the team. Questioning existing practices, will either help in reinforcing the confidence anybody might have on the practice, or discover new unanswered questions that can only be answered by a new innovation.
2. Reward Success and Failure equally, penalise inaction
Success is sometimes so sweet that it can easily blind the merits of a failure that may be an outcome of an innovative experiment. All good actions need not succeed. But not rewarding the failures will result in killing good ideas all together. Inaction on the other front needs to be penalised for it is not only highly unproductive , but is also moves you one step backward.
3. Avoid democracy in decision making
Not all "Good Ideas" are necessarily "most popular" . Allowing too much of democratic decision making can result in chipping off the odd but out of the way idea. Having a board room voting in making decisions may keep the voters happy, but innovation would just have been crushed.
Finally, " Innovation and art are not like boiled eggs. You can't have them made to order". One cannot fix a framework and system to mechanise and manufacture innovation. One cannot fix a target for the amount of innovation one can have in a company. The only thing that can be targetted is to allow to fix up an environment that can foster innovation. The rest shall still have to stick within the cubicle.


vijayan said...

does not cubicles restrict free communication. Does innovation happen only in free undisturbed partitions. I always felt the need for cubicles is just to create an undisturbed surroundings to enable one to execute job. Perhaps the conventional thinking of identifying positions by creating walls is no longer relevant in the modern era.

I always wonder how colleagues communicate effectively sitting inside boxes?

Hari said...

I think Inside Or outside Cubicle For innovation require as mentioned free communication take confidence of your teammates from nature, environment You should remember poets Keats Byran Rishi Viswamitra also done it from seclusion