Is it possible to find a company that does not say they are innovative? Is there any manager or VP that does not want more creativity? I’m sure such companies and people exist somewhere but I haven’t found one. We all want to foster innovation and creativity.
Innovation In The Team
Agile teams that are working well are fountains of innovation. They concentrate on their backlog, crash thoughts and technology together and keep creating product increments that win. Each day can be hard work and fun. If you approach a the team’s room or work area at any given time, you might see:
- Conversations in pairs or small groups.
- Gestures, pointing and passion about what is happening.
- Stuff on the walls that show information about the state of the work and the goals of the product development.
- Laughter, back slapping and sometimes concern and disagreement.
Innovation In The Company
These same signs of innovation can scale up into the rest of the company. If you walk through the marketing department, operations or accounting, the energy level is also high. The work that must be done may be much different than software development and yet the feel, the engagement between people, will tell how much creativity is happening.
Innovation Pocket Problem
I have seen many teams that are rocking the creativity and pushing the innovation envelope. Then they try to release or attempt to change their seating arrangement or hang something on a wall. And they encounter the boundaries of their pocket, the organizational impediments that prevent the full power of their work to flourish. For example:
- The team is creating shippable software nearly every sprint but deployment takes six weeks. End user feedback is broken.
- Enhanced communication from information radiators is squelched before the benefits are even tested.
- Layers between the team and the customer prevent focus on features that would delight the customer.
If you are a manager or otherwise in a position to help, periodically make a visual and feel check of your environment. Walk around and talk to people in different departments. How does it feel? Is there innovation visible and creative energy present? Would a visiting customer walking through your offices see and feel innovation? Does your environment and processes back up your claim to be an innovative company? Is the creativity self-evident just by looking around?
If not, what are you going to do about it?