Is your organization a little too comfortable? Are your people risk averse? Is there a blame culture? How can you encourage innovation by getting men and women to be more adventurous and entrepreneurial? How can you get them to take more risks? Here is an idea that is borrowed from the game of Monopoly – the Get out of Jail Free (GOJF) card.
Give every member of your team two GOJF cards at the beginning of the year. The cards should be personalised to each individual and they are strictly non-transferable (unlike in the game where you can buy or sell them). The idea is this. If you try an initiative which is aimed at improving things for the customer or the business and the venture fails for any reason whatsoever then you can play your GOJF card and no-one can blame or criticize you. You can still analyse what happened and how things might have been played differently but the card means that the person responsible cannot be blamed for what went wrong.
Of course the cards are not intended to defend against incompetence or laziness in the normal course of your work. You cannot play your card to excuse lateness in your regular duties or missing deadlines. They are reserved for new ideas and initiatives that you champion and carry out.
If you reach the end of year review and one of your people has not played his cards then ask why. Did everything you try succeed or did you not attempt anything new? Gradually the message will get across. People are empowered, encouraged and expected to try out innovative ideas which are beneficial for the business. And they will not be punished for failing. The Get out of Jail Free cards are fun and playful but they underscore a serious message. We need to try more new things more often.
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Paul Sloane writes, speaks and leads workshops on creativity, innovation, and leadership. He is the author of The Innovative Leader and editor of A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing, published both published by Kogan-Page. Follow him @PaulSloane