There is a management approach which helps normalize the pursuit of lateral thinking and creative solutions. This strategy also aims to open new doors and opportunities along the way.
Employee-led projects and initiatives can help develop the creative pulse of an organization, clarify a team’s core functionalities & strengths, and bring about some unexpected success. Let us explore some examples:
1] Google’s “20% Time”
One notable case study is Google’s implementation of the “20% Time” policy. This initiative allows employees to devote 20% of their workweek to personal projects. The results have been remarkable, with products such as Gmail, Google News, and AdSense originating from employee-led projects. By providing dedicated time for self-directed work, Google nurtures a culture of innovation and gives employees the freedom to explore new ideas beyond their routine tasks.
2] Atlassian’s “ShipIt Days”
Atlassian, a leading software company, conducts regular “ShipIt Days” where employees have 24 hours to work on projects of their choice. This initiative encourages cross-functional collaboration and empowers individuals to bring their ideas to life. By fostering a culture of experimentation and creativity, Atlassian has seen numerous successful projects emerge from these dedicated sessions.
3] 3M’s “15% Rule”
3M’s renowned “15% Rule” allows employees to spend up to 15% of their working time on projects unrelated to their primary responsibilities. This freedom has led to breakthrough innovations, such as the creation of the iconic Post-it Note. By granting employees the autonomy to pursue their passions, 3M has created a culture where individuals feel empowered to think outside the box and contribute to the company’s success.
4] LinkedIn’s “InCubator” Program
LinkedIn’s “InCubator” program is designed to harness the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of its employees. Through this initiative, individuals can pitch their project ideas and, if selected, receive dedicated time and resources to bring them to fruition. This program fosters intrapreneurship, strengthens employee engagement, and results in innovative solutions that contribute to LinkedIn’s continuous growth.
5] Valve Corporation’s Flat Hierarchy
Valve Corporation operates on a unique flat hierarchy system, allowing employees to choose their projects and work with others in a self-organizing manner. By eliminating traditional management structures and granting autonomy, Valve nurtures a culture where employees take ownership of their work. This approach has propelled the company’s success in the competitive video game industry.
Even before considering these approaches, there are plenty of takeaways to be absorbed. When noticing an individual’s skill set that seems unrelated to their job title, a forward-thinking manager might consider, “How could this be useful beyond its present application?”
When considering what trajectories to position towards, it could be helpful for the organization to conduct an interview of the employee base. This will help expose the organizational leadership to the employees’ view of the company’s core competencies and strengths.
As you might imagine, there are some downsides when considering such bold directions. It may break the norm & will probably decrease the measurable employee output in the immediate present. That, however, is only part of the picture, which doesn’t include the increase in employee satisfaction & groundbreaking idea potential. Each organization gets to consider whether the time, energy, and financial investment is fitting for their situation. Realistically, not every company has the proper teams and resources in place if major ideas and opportunities came knocking on the door. Those who do see the value in this venture, may join in producing the next generation of fulfilled & loyal teams as well as unheard of ideas.
Do you have comments, questions, ideas, or suggestions from how your organization has effectively made space for your team to outperform expectations? Share with us at: [email protected]