Open Innovation for a better work

Henrik Stamm Kristensen

This Ted Talk by Jason Fried, author of Rework and co-founder of 37 sinalgs, starts with a question that I’m sure everyone has asked themselves at some moment: Why people don’t really work at the office? Why the best place to work for some is home, planes, trains, an empty room… which is to say quiet places. He argues that people, in the office, just have working moments, not working days. And there are two things that explain “Why work doesn’t happen at work”, which is the title of the conference.

These two things are managers and meetings. He calls them the “m&ms” and says that both together mean distraction. They result in people having about 15 minutes of real uninterrupted work time. That time is to short to have a creative idea or find a solution to a problem. They need long structures of uninterrupted time to think deeply on an issue.

This observation is closely related to the traditional and very hierarchical structures of conventional organizations, which is one of the obstacles to Open Innovation. In place of these organizational models, Fried proposes more horizontal structures and decentralized cooperation within the enterprise. It means using tools that don’t create distraction, like email, instant messaging, collaboration products…

New ways of collaboration

Fried refers to managers as people whose job is to interrupt other workers. And meetings as something that is not spontaneously organized by employees to solve a problem, but organized by managers to force employees to stop doing their job. All this affects productivity.

Ten people, in a meeting, speaking one hour about something that they have to do later is ten hours of lost production. To avoid this, he proposes to replace active communication models, face to face, for passive ones. For instance, collaboration platforms, which are the ones that work for Open Innovation.  These allow people to schedule their interruptions and have more long moments of productive work and develop good ideas.

Thus, Open Innovation platforms are an effective way to innovate.


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