Knowledge workers in today’s tech economy need to be managed such that they can be engines of customer-focused innovation in order for companies to delight their customers.
Innovation happens when motivated employees are given clear targets and the freedom to find solutions to problems. According to Frederick Herzberg, motivation comes from giving people challenging work to meet inspiring goals, so when innovations result, the cycle is self-perpetuating.
An environment that fosters innovation is the responsibility of the management to create.
In contrast to what is called “old-school management”, the hallmarks of an environment that will inspire innovation and could be called “new-age management” include:
- A clear focus on the customer and their problems as a way to create value
- Autonomous or self-organizing cross-functional teams with the responsibility to solve problems and the authority to make decisions to do that
- Managers who act as enablers to remove barriers to get the work done
- Open communications and transparency in activities and results
Agile product development practices are a great model to use that can generate innovation in product development using techniques such as fast prototyping, product owners, doing high-value targets first, using daily scrum meetings, etc. The Scrum Alliance has an excellent guide at www.scrumalliance.org
Creating the environment that can foster innovation from motivated workers is not trivial to implement, but the rewards in term of customer delight, market leadership and improved financial results can be significant.
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