Posted - 29/03/12 | 0 Comments

Teams get the chance to think big and radical

How do you encourage and harness good ideas within your organisation?

Some businesses don’t see the point of involving all their employees. After all, don’t the best ideas come from the boardroom? And aren’t there consultants for that kind of thing anyway?

Sometimes. But mostly not.

Asking all employees to step outside their day-to-day roles – for a few hours a week at least – can reap major business benefits. And surprises.

That’s what Clear discovered with Labs, a unique opportunity for teams from across our company to create and showcase their own innovative ideas for new products.

Although we’re a software solutions company, each four-person team had sprinkling of talent from across the business. So that’s everyone reception to accounts, operations to sales, development to support. Senior managers provided mentoring.

The big challenge was to find a new or complementary product that Clear could launch within the invoicing marketplace. But the scope was wide open. And Friday afternoons were set aside for two months.

“At first, people felt quite daunted. But then the challenge become enormously enjoyable and the room was buzzing,” says Paul Massey, our Director of Engineering.

“The difficulty wasn’t trying to find a product, but choosing which of the brilliant ideas to pursue. However, each team settled on a single innovation after applying tough criteria for development time and cost, weighted against benefits and commercial returns.”

Interestingly, each team recognised that more exciting possibilities existed for the vast quantities of data that swims around within P2P systems. Some even created software prototypes for our final, which we called Big Thursday.

The winning team was EGstra, led by Richard Nduka, with Ping Lam, Elena Toma and Michael McLintock, who shared the £1,000 prize.

The evening ended with the whole company enjoying some well-deserved downtime at a local bar.

Pictured: The winning team (left to right): Elena, Michael, Ping and Richard

Their idea was an exciting, radical, dynamic dashboard that …. erm … well, forgive us if we don’t say any more just yet. Suffice to say that it exceeded our hopes for Big Thursday – and it’s now being nurtured very carefully in the Clear room marked ‘Top Secret’. Watch this space.

“The EGstra team did some amazing work. And their colleagues likewise devised some truly ingenious ideas. Our company would never have thought of these in the normal course of things – which shows the value of this approach,” says Peter Whent, Clear’s Chief Executive.

“Not only did this give us a wealth of R&D possibilities, but it revealed many hidden talents across the business – from project management to presentation skills. It also strengthened teamwork and enriched the culture of innovation that has made Clear successful. It’s something we all have – and we must all use.”

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