A popular example of insanity is repeating the same steps, yet expecting different results.
Through the economic downturn, organizations have first pruned and then decimated their budgets to the point that only short-term strategic (isn’t that an oxymoron?) and non-discretionary work is able to continue. Even as economic improvement occurs, companies are being very hesitant to relax these funding constraints. This is troubling as it could choke the very creativity that is essential for propelling organizations beyond survival and for the creation of sustainable competitive advantage.
Organizations that do not preserve some staff or financial availability to fund research projects run the risk of experiencing innovation insanity – they will be hard pressed to truly innovate as their resources will have been given no opportunity to try new things. Just ask someone that spends 40+ hours a week doing the same mind-numbing operational & project work week after week. If they are never given the chance to learn something that they find interesting, how likely is it that they will initiate or incubate great ideas?
I don’t advocate letting “pet projects” proliferate without appropriate governance nor do I feel that each & every “interesting” request should be sponsored. Criteria should be established to ensure there is some consistency and objectivity to which staff and what sort of projects will be supported. However, establishing an R&D “budget” of resource availability and operating funding is one way to ensure that once the mandate comes from up high to launch some creative projects, your team will be ready. Beyond that, it is a great way to cultivate loyalty in the skilled staff that you feel will help your company evolve.
After all, if Innovating Time Off worked for Google, it should be worth justifying some “fallow time” for your team!