Innovation through simplicity

Eugenia Dabu

This is the story of Jonathan. Jonathan is 100% motivated by his job, engaged in all his daily activities and 100% productive. His employer knows all of this because everything was measured recently. His employer is 100% sure that Jonathan is a happy employee.

The truth is that Jonathan does not exist and this story is not real.

You’re reading an article about innovation through simplicity.  (Yes, I know! It sounds really catchy!) But there’s more to come.  You might be wondering what’s with the introduction.

Well, my inspiration for this short note was a quote by Edward de Bono (“Dealing with complexity is an inefficient and unnecessary waste of time, attention and mental energy. There is never any justification for things being complex when they could be simple”) and I strongly believe that simplicity is the key of innovation.

Let’s take the example of Netflix. Their message is very simple: treating humans like people. Netflix Culture? Two key words: freedom and responsibility.

Freedom.

We all want to be free, don’t we? Free to think, to act, to create, to be ourselves.

Do you feel free while working a minimum of 8 hours a day, Monday to Friday, at your employer’s premises, while you have 21 days of vacation per year?

Companies like Fedex, Zappos or Google use “freedom” to drive employee motivation and productivity.

FedEx Day – during a 24-hour period, employees can work on whatever project they want so long as their focus stays on the usual job responsibilities. There’s only one rule: they must present their completed project to their colleagues the next day.

We also have Glassman Wealth Services Thinking Days. Here the employees can take have a day off and present their favorite Ted.com presentation to the team.The result? Happy and relaxed employees, being inspired, creative and sharing new ideas.

Want more? Engaged and loyal employees, focused on continuous improvement and implementing innovative practices.

As for the final result: not just a healthy organization, more than that, a community with beliefs, hopes, dreams, leaders and with the power and drive to succeed no matter the peril.  Basically, just that kind of model of society, I think we all aspire upon on.

OK! Let’s continue our list of simple and innovative practices used by well-known companies.

Here’s ROWE! ROWE has the same core: freedom. Results-only work environment allows workers to set their own working hours. Employees are evaluated solely on results, performance and not presence. The concept promotes autonomy and accountability and can be a great selling point in attracting candidates.

Is freedom a complex concept? Might be if you’re a philosopher.

I think that organizational freedom will enable and drive innovation. More than that, imagine not just a company with an innovator HR department, but a company with 100 – 200 innovative employees. A culture of innovation based on simplicity and common sense.

Stay tuned as I’ll get back with more insightful thoughts about Jonathan.

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