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Skill Level Intermediate
(gentle music) - There's an irony in trying to get people to do their best work, but particularly to try new things and to innovate in that very often, the kind of characteristics that are common to someone who will have a good new idea have no overlap with the characteristics that are common to someone who's really good at presenting in meetings. So it's kind of like the difference between sales and R&D, right? So the people that are in your sales or marketing division in a company are a very different kind of person than the person you have in R&D or something else like that. (gentle music) The problem is, if you do the traditional route of trying to encourage innovation by having meetings, and let's say, let's brainstorm and talk about what you think a good idea might be, the problem is that the people who might be very best at innovating are often the people who are very worst at presenting in a meeting like that or selling their ideas. One piece of evidence in that argument is the fact that so many true innovators don't work in groups. You have to fail a lot when you innovate, and failure in a public setting can really hurt your self-esteem and your self-confidence. So you need to create an environment where people really can be empowered to fail. (gentle music) Google uses what's called 20% time, which has become pretty famous in some management circles, and it seems to work pretty well. A lot of Google engineers were either invited or sometimes required to use 20% of their work time, so a day a week, to work on their own project. So rather than have the model of take 20 people and bring them into a room for an hour, and you're using 20 person hours there, and that's kind of our standard corporate meeting model, right? And usually what happens there is it works on the sort of consensus building model, let's brainstorm and then that idea's pretty good, let's try to refine it a little bit, and then you kind of get to one or two or three ideas, and then we're going to put all our resources in those one or two or three ideas. Is that a really efficient way to allocate resources? And is it a really efficient use of the person hours of all those bright people and all that human capital? It's way to dependent on human psychology and people who might not be self-confident, and the noisy self-confident people getting more of the floor, even when their ideas might be terrible ideas. A way to flip that model on its head is say instead of bringing together 20 people for an hour all together, let's give those 20 people an hour to go off on their own and come up with an idea. (gentle music) Anonymity is fantastic for flushing out what might be garbage ideas, but which, when presented well, get a lot of enthusiasm. Anonymity is also good for the supervisors not thinking that something is a good idea because it comes from the person that they think is really smart. And so, instead of taking those 20 person hours to work toward one or two or three ideas and you build a consensus and you put all your money and time behind that, get 20 different ideas from 20 different people in isolation and bring them together, make it a real bake off. Judge them on the merits, and then put your resources behind the ones that actually on the surface have a better chance of succeeding. So I think that's a really viable, fun, fair way to try to develop innovation internally, as opposed to the kind of classic top down boss, give me your best ideas framework. (gentle music)