Gear Up to innovate

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By: Hassan Javed

It is rightly said that innovation and creativity is something which is inevitable. Brands which are innovative and show guts to do something different while taking risks always remain a step ahead of competitors. But we must also acknowledge that innovative steps can only be taken if a company can sustain the risk. We also observe that companies try to hire the best resource which can bring in change. A change that can act as a fusion and can change the entire paradigm but ironically it’s the same management which suppresses those innovative ideas because of lack of risk taking ability and openness to ideas. As a result, creativity gets stumbled and it never rises again until a competitor takes a creative step and your organization tries to replicate competitors approach by skewing the idea.

In the scenario explained above of the issues faced in organizations regarding innovation, we see Google as the prime organization which sets the bar for companies across the world. Be it advertising, new product development or in any way, Google comes under one of the best innovative companies. This rises the question what makes Google innovative? There must be some different practices which we in our local organizations are not following at all while being stuck in red-tapism but these practices are being followed at Google as innovation and creativity comes out with the environment provided. As per a study I once read, there were twin brothers who were brought up in different environment and at different locations. One brother turned out to be innovative while the other didnt. So the study proved that genetics play a minor role in making a person innovative and creative while the environment in which he/she are living in majorly builds up the person.

Keeping the theme in line I will discuss the best practices at Google which promotes creativity and innovation.

Google Garage:
Google garage is one of such initiatives which supports creative thinking. Google garage is a working space where employees at Google come and discuss creative ideas and whatever productive ideas employees want to discuss. Employees at Google carry out small workshops; discuss ideas so that they can come up with something new. As Fast company says, “if you want to encourage creativity, and wild ideas, and moonshot thinking, you should create that exact environment that helps you achieve that.”

Dedicated 20% time:

As a policy google has dedicated 20% time specifically for innovation. Isn’t this amazing and something different? But what is this policy to be exact? Lets explain it first. As quotes by Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin highlighted the idea in their 2004 IPO letter:

“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google,” “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”. As a matter of fact the famous products of this 20% policy includes development of Google News, Gmail, and even AdSense. But do you really think all these products are result of 20& time for innovation? According to CEO of Yahoo “It’s funny, people have been asking me since I got here, ‘When is Yahoo going to have 20% time?'” she said on stage during an all-employee meeting at Yahoo. “I’ve got to tell you the dirty little secret of Google’s 20% time. It’s really 120% time.”

This show how important it is to give time to creativity and innovation for the future growth of organizations. Before I wrap up, I would want to leave a few questions on the table on which we can ponder upon and let our minds think differently. Can we follow practices of Google at our work places in Pakistan? Are we ready for such a change and is our management willing for such change? Will we utilize this time for creativity and innovation with full dedication and with efficiency? These are a few questions which should be answered before we try to implement it but as I said earlier, risk is something which must be taken and we should try new things else we wont be able to answer our own questions.

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