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02/21/2013

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Great topic Stephanie. I would like to hear from you and other readers:

In your company how do you tell employees it's OK to take risks and if they fail, how do you design incentives that don't penalize him/her because of it?

Look forward to hearing answers.

Stephanie - Creating a culture and rewards program to encourage new ideas from the workforce is a tremendous concept. Similar to the old Suggestion Programs, however, it can be difficult to administer and sustain. Many of those 'old' programs died through strangulation by the bureaucracy created to manage them.

A culture of innovation requires easy and frequent communication throughout the organization. The better informed the workforce, the more likely ideas will be triggered to improve or change.

Designing a rewards program to support that culture can be a tricky exercise, especially when metrics are superimposed over the process. Moreover, the law of unintended consequences needs to be thoughtfully considered.

Just like most other highly impactful concepts, if it were easy to do everyone would be doing it. Success can be transformative, so its worth the effort.

Hi Stephanie -- I can't help but think back to Daniel Pink's book "Drive" where he describes innovations that happen as a result of letting go of control/incentives and letting people 'be'. Our minds can't be free in a lab as your article alludes. Ultimately employers have to give up a great deal of control in order to establish a culture of innovation. Its fun, its creative, and its, dare I say, heart centered freedom. Also thinking of Otto Scharmer's thoughts on 'Presencing' and Theory U.

Totally agree with Patty - my first thought as I read this was "autonomy, mastery and purpose". Talk pay off the table (make it not matter) give them the intrinsic rewards they crave, and a heuristic (innovative) workforce will blossom. Of course, its a 180 degree difference for an algorithmic (scripted) workforce. Great book, DRIVE - I highly recommend it.

We had this for years. It was called recess.

When we got older we stopped having recess because it just "seems' unproductive.

But recess is probably where most people made life-long friends. It is probably the time where we learned how fast we could run, how high we could jump and, if we squinted just right, how easy it was to fly.

Most great creative companies have recess. But, like most great schools they also have great places to do more structured work, great leaders and goals that can and must be attained.

These things are measured in minutes, hours, day, months, years and life-times.

But, most of all the measurement of recess how big you could make the world in your mind. The measure of class was how to turn that vision into reality.

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