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Innovation As A Motivator Essay

1794 words - 7 pages

Motivation, an important concept in management theory, can be defined as: “the reasons people do the things that they do” (Zenisek, 2009). A company that effectively motivates its employees will often perform better than one that does not. One motivation technique is innovation time: giving employees the freedom to work on their own projects as a portion of their normal workload. These projects are entirely self-directed, and rely heavily on the employee’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Innovation time is an advantageous policy for two reasons: it can facilitate the creation of new revenue streams, and it exemplifies the positive aspects of academically accepted motivation theories, in particular the job characteristics model (JCM). Google and 3M, two highly successful companies, attribute much of their success to their use of this motivation technique. Allowing employees time to innovate and work on projects not directly assigned to them by management is an effective way to motivate staff in today’s competitive economy.
Before examining the advantages of innovation time, it is important to understand the fundamentals of the theory. At its core, the idea of giving employees time to self-direct themselves in the pursuit of creative projects involves supporting the innovator’s personal interests and entrepreneurial spirit (Dackert, Looke, & Martensson). The technique seeks to reduce employee turnover and increase productivity. The idea for innovation time is attributed to an incident that occurred at 3M. A 3M engineer received a direct order from a manager to stop working on a personal project during company time. The employee ignored his manager’s demand, and as a result, invented what would become one of 3M’s leading products: masking tape (Govindarajan, 2002). 3M learned from this experience, and developed a corporate policy that encouraged all researchers to spend fifteen percent of their time on projects that interested them. Google also adopted this strategy, but altered it to make it fit their corporate culture. At Google, all engineers spend eighty percent of their time on company assigned projects, and twenty percent of their time on personal or group projects (Google, 2009). Google’s implementation of the technique is unique because it adopts additional motivational theories in the administration of the twenty percent rule. Google ensures that employees remain motivated in regards to their projects through constant feedback and review. Each employee submits a weekly description of the progress made on their personal project and attends regular peer review meetings (Girard, 2009). The feedback gained from these meetings helps the employee to brainstorm solutions to problems and remain focused on their project goals. As well, peer review sessions allow engineers see what their colleagues are working on, and provides them with the opportunity to join other projects. Although innovation time could apply to many...

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