How do you foster, grow and facilitate innovation? It’s a question that plaques many but few have found the answer. We appear at work at 8 and leave before 17, so that we don’t exceed the golden constant pace of 80% of our performance. But how can one feel free to innovate within such a tight container? From PO’s perspective we work in a black box where he or she throws some stories for us to chew and once in a while we spit out something that satisfies the stakeholders. But can anyone realistically say that it hatches creativity?
It does not. That is best described as work. Just the kind of work that makes Jack a dull boy. But how do you break that incapability to innovate? How empower team members to let them brains breath for a while, to smell the smells of the vast technological spaces where no-one has gone before? Well, at least they have not.
You allow creative slack. You specifically allow the team members to spend time at work on issues that interest them. It may be reading a technical magazine, looking at the latest technologies, starting to learn new languages and so forth. You let them coast within lax boundaries, boundaries that say “slack must somehow relate to your work, may it be skill, tools, technology and what not”. In other words, it is not about avoiding work.
With creative slack you may get
- sense of empowerment
- regeneration at work
- greater technical skills
- quicker adaptability with new technologies
- improved morale
- fresh viewpoints
and much more. While you may not see immediate improvement in your team velocity these gains are worth it alone! All of them will have a positive effect on velocity.
I am currently in a lucky situation that after introducing this idea to my team (after 1,5 years of hibernation) we all agreed that we want this and we presented this to our superiors and the initial response was a solid GO! We just need to figure out the nitty gritty details so that creative slack fits and syncs nicely into our multi-team environment.
Do not try to force creativity, embrace it and let it grow naturally by giving time!