Incentivize Innovation that Escalates Me to We

We do this constantly in our work: we figure out macros and hacks that streamline and accelerate our work. A routine we might perform numerous times a day, becomes a habit we learn how to tweak and accelerate and perform faster to increase our own performance.

But what if our organizational cultures incentivized people to conjure hacks and macros that accelerated the work of the team, of the entire groups we collaborate with?

I had an interview with the VP of HR for a leading consultancy in India. He described a practice there to incentivize bigger thinking innovation we can all emulate. If an associate there figures out a faster, cleaner why of performing a routinized task, they are acknowledged and rewarded. Their work gets better, and the entire team benefits from their elevated capacity.

However, if they develop an innovative new process which lifts the productivity of their entire collaborative team, the recognition and reward is significantly larger. Because now the defining mindset and orientation shifts on what innovation really means. Innovation is now cast in terms of lifting the larger whole, the greater goal and purpose. Instead of being defined as personal and incremental, innovation is recast as the opportunity and expectation that everyone will both think of themselves constantly as part of a larger we.

Here’s an example of that idea in practice borrowed from a fortune 500 financial services company that does just that in spades. I had a cool conversation with their IT leader who encourages professionals on the team to post internally their custom hacks and scripts to a social platform for others to copy and build on. The practice has spurred a friendly cooperative competition among the programmers to post and defend their own cool custom hacks. Then, other pros in the IT group are encouraged to borrow that brilliance and build on these signature scripts, which again elevates the productivity of the greater whole. It encourages personal, creative expression, and it builds a shared network of signature solutions within the group.

Figure out how to not only recognize and incentivize individual creativity and productivity, but also create shared solutions that support everyone around them.