You can’t innovate off the side of the desk … or can you?
The notion of not being able to innovate effectively unless you have dedicated resources and budget has been a long-term approach of innovation managers and consultants. It served us well when we needed to press companies to commit to innovation and make it part of their strategy.
But innovation has evolved. If you do a search for innovation on LinkedIn and select People, you get 5.81 million results. So, nearly 6 million people have mentioned innovation in their bios. If you then search for innovation in job titles, you get 230,000 results. Most insurers also have innovation as part of their strategy now.
Now that we don’t need to persuade people that innovation is a key pillar, is it time to challenge some of those long-embedded mantras?
That is what we decided to do at Ninety. What if we flipped the statement? What if you could innovate off the side of the desk? Well, think about it, that would mean that everyone in your organization had the potential to innovate. And what would the results be? Well, more ideas, for a start. And perhaps higher quality ideas as people at the coalface start to raise their hands and get stuck into innovation.
How to democratize innovation?
We knew it had to be two things: digital and low touch; but we also wanted to be able to hook people on that innovation high. Innovators will tell you that there is a buzz when you are deep into an innovation project – working at pace, talking to your customers, experimenting, creativity bouncing off the walls. Surely you can’t replicate all that with digital and low touch?
We gave it a go … and the Ninety Gym was born.
Ninety Gym is a fitness program for your brain. A 25-minutes-a-day routine to get you working on innovation. It allows companies to sweat their assets; in this case, the creativity of their people – all managed through our digital platform. The Gym is unique, it is at the cross-section of innovation and e-learning. E-doing is a better way to describe it.
Obviously, due to its bite-size nature, something has to give, and that is the total elapsed time. Eight weeks is needed to go from problem space to pitch. A mission a day, Monday to Thursday. We give you Friday off – recovery time is important after all! But the upside is that 100s of people can be innovating at the same time. Democratization of innovation in action.
How does Gym work?
There is the option to work individually or within teams. We prefer the team option, it’s more fun and drives that collision of opinion that is so important for innovation. It also keeps team members motivated and accountable on the project. Forget the water cooler moment, it’s now the Gym floor moment!
The teams or individuals are given daily missions that set them clear tasks to achieve within a 25-minute time slot to keep moving their idea forward. In the eight weeks, they learn the innovation process daily, but are also working on an actual idea. This means that at the end of the process, you not only have an innovation that can potentially deliver value to your organization, but also a better-skilled workforce that can repeat the process in the future.
It is not a coincidence that we set a time limit of 25 minutes a day. We chose the Pomodoro Technique to bring the tasks to life because 25 minutes is not only a doable commitment, that even the busiest of us can fit into a schedule, but also because it’s a great amount of time to stay focused for. By working on the daily tasks over some time, we also build a new habit of innovating that we hope will be there to stay even after the program is finished.
We have had a taste of our own medicine on this one and tested the proposition early, here are three exciting outcomes from our work to date.
- 100% of participants felt that they were better innovators by the end of the program.
- Most teams pivoted their ideas at least once – this was a concern; would teams fall in love with their ideas and continue, blinded to the fact that their idea was flawed? No! They celebrated the failure and pivoted or started again with a new idea.
- All digital programs benefit from a cameo appearance from David Hasselhoff. He transcends the generations!
We are proud, therefore, to now be launching the Ninety Gym to the wider market. Please don your lycra or best yoga pants and join us at the launch party on the 5th of October.