We all need a viable strategy to reach our innovative potential – but it’s unlikely that we have woven a firm plan within our work lives to do so. Implementing a guiding tool to stay “on the cutting edge” would be a positive step in the right direction. Randomly making resolutions concerning innovation are problematical at best. We need to ensure that opportunities for an innovative path are built directly into our work lives.
Personally, I find that it can be difficult to persevere and follow through with a change in routine (Sad, yet true). I often make promises to myself that I will spend more time exploring new “work life” territory – but it seems that without fail limited time and obligations interfere. A more concrete plan to sustain forward momentum toward this goal is needed. Hopefully, with some measured practice it will have the chance to become “second nature”.
But why reinvent the wheel?
To this end, I am all for borrowing established (and successful) strategies as a model – “tried and true” methods that can be adapted to our own work lives. That’s exactly how I view the 70-20-10 rule, practiced by Google. The 70-20-10 rule is elegant – yet remarkably simple. It prescribes that you should spend 70% of your time on the core areas of your work, 20% of your time on tasks related to your core business and 10% of your time devoted to tasks that are completely “off-road”.
This method can be readily applied to many, many roles – including those that focus on sales and process improvement. Try it on for size.
A couple of ways to apply it:
- Staffing a team. The larger part of the team (70%) should include those directly related to the work at hand at hand. However, 20% could be in areas or functions related to the issue or project at hand - and 10% of team members could be composed of those in unrelated functions – that could offer an entirely fresh perspective.
- Sales efforts. If you sell for a living, take another look at your potential customers. Of course, your core target group would include organizations with a profile very similar to your current clients. However, go the extra mile and identify 20% that are somewhat unrelated – but still may find a fit or use for your product. The other 10%? These are customers that may require you to develop innovative product applications, or service packages to win their business. Explore this path – there is no telling what will be discovered.
- Networking. We all have a tendency to gravitate towards the familiar – but this can limit us. (Think of your typical behavior at a party.) Make a concerted effort to build relationships with people in new areas – but are still tangentially related to your core. (For example, if I exclusively networked with other psychologists, I wouldn’t learn nearly as much about engagement platforms.) You may not have the “lingo” mastered – but you can certainly develop a working vocabulary. You may happen upon a very worthwhile collaboration.
Here are a just a few reasons to try the method:
- Ideas don’t develop themselves. If we don’t designate time to explore new paths – our thoughts cannot “cross-pollinate” – an innovation basic. Many interesting developments and discoveries arise from “serendipity”.
- Our brains require a change of pace. Have you heard of The Eureka Phenomena? Asimov’s classic article helps us understand that the brain works on more than one level. Changing gears for a period of time – can actually help your mind “settle” and problem solve.
- We all need real challenge. The 70-20-10 can help “gamify” work. Place the “off- road 10%” in that category. That works for me.
Have you applied the 70-20-10 in your line of work? Tell us how.