How to be More Innovative

A client of mine wanted to inspire her colleagues to be more innovative so she took a survey of 1,000 staff to find out what they needed in the workplace to tap into their creativity and ingenuity.

400 people responded and what they said really surprised her.

She expected to get back zany ideas like “Let’s turn the conference room into a ball pit! More foosball tournaments! Shave each other’s heads! Vegan diets for all! Magicians at lunchtime!”

But that didn’t happen. The survey definitely had a theme though.

People wanted meetings to be more efficient or go away altogether. They wanted controls on their computers to foil their obsessive email checking. They wanted apps to prompt them to stop and think, they wanted designated space carved out between those unwanted meetings to breathe in what they just heard.

In short, when asked what they needed most to innovate, without regard for budget, people responded uniformly in their request:

Make more time for it.

Sure there were a few plugs for Friday hackathons, Hawaiian shirts, and long walks with Tony Robbins, but the biggest theme by far was time – finding more of it, respecting it, piling it up like coals that can give way to a flame.

Turns out – at least according to a few hundred designers and engineers in San Francisco – you don’t need a big tech-company budget to spark innovation and build a fire. All you need is to rope off a little time – unstructured time, protected time, play time in a white room with white walls and a few jars of paint.

And we all have the resources to do that.