Managing Creativity

I was recently inspired by an article from Harvard Business School that promotes the idea of allowing some unguided freedom for employees to be creative, in the hopes that they will come up with something great, or at least enjoy their job a bit more.

So, I came up with the following for my team, and I am looking forward to see where they take it.

Your Fun & Creative Project:

  • 1-2 hours per week (turn off e-mail if it helps / set aside specific time each week)
  • Work on something you are passionate about
  • OK if it has nothing to do with your current job (needs to be relevant to Microsoft)
  • You must work with at least one other person in the company
  • Don’t even tell me what you are working on for about a month!

How to Measure It:

  • The only way you can fail is if you are inactive, so you have to try something
  • Write up what you learned at the end of the year in your review
  • Get a patent if appropriate
  • Failure is OK

Examples of Success:

  • 3M: masking tape & scotch tape
  • HP: a monitor that eventually made $35 million in revenue
  • Data General: faster design of microcomputers
  • Honda: the Honda City Car in Japan
  • What will you do?

I’ll let you know in a few months how it’s going.