Innovate while you work

In Innovation, Life, Productivity, Work on January 8, 2010 at 7:35 pm

When I joined my present company, I was a part of a team. My team included two HRs, few web-designers, few developers and testers along with a team leader and a project manager, like any team in a typical IT company.  Most of the things were handled in an unplanned way and the To-Do list was just a messed up list. No deadlines, no targets and sometimes no tasks clearly defined. Staff just looked tired and occupied by fatigue due to lack of interest. Our boss often commented: “Don’t do donkey work”, but the staff didn’t follow and continued with their donkey work.

I started finding ways to try to improve the way we collaborate and the way other things were handled in our office. I wanted to simplify things and make work interesting for me and others too. While coming and leaving office, ideas filled my mind and I started thinking of a concept, I named: Innovation at Work.

But how and what to innovate? I started preparing the blue-print on my notepad. I thought that if I could just write down the activities of my team members, their areas that result in time-waste and disinterest and figure out their interests, I could end up making my workplace enjoyable.

I started careful examination of each and every activity that I noticed daily when I reached office. Employees Attendance, Day-End Reports, To-Do Lists, Tasks Sharing, Deadlines, disinterest and interests as well. I also started prioritizing the team members according to the importance of their tasks, designation and fatigue that resulted due to disinterest. After a couple of weeks my list was ready. What I now wanted was to prepare a list of tools and other funny things that each team member require from time to time to keep them engaged, reduce fatigue (eliminate donkey work) and make them feel the enjoyment at the workplace.

I decided to first fix up the Analysts and Business Development department. The Business Development Executive’s daily routine included contacting potential customers for our products and services. They would just keep visiting new customers daily in any selected direction of the city and return tired with no positive outcome. On the other hand, the HRs wanted a robust portal with most of their tasks automated to simplify their working. Usually they would request the tech department to provide a tool to simplify their work but the tech department was too busy in other unproductive work.

After examination I found that the primary reason of fatigue in employees was the unplanned business model. Our official portals were not robust enough to reflect the ethics and capabilities of our company. Due to this, the Business Development Executives were unable to present well our company profile to customers. The customers were not happy with the portals and our business model and it was getting hard for our Business Development personnel to convince the customers for products and services.

Wasted days became months and losses kept accumulating. I calculated the amount of work that the tech team had at that point of time and the time it would take to create a robust platform comprising of portals and products. I found that the tech team was overloaded with the products but the development process itself had flaws. Because of this overload, they were unable to handle the restructuring task of portals and development of other tools needed by the HRs. Due to losses, the company was unable to go for further recruitment.

My list was complete and in the next meeting I was able to convince my boss by mentioning the primary flaws that need to be urgently fixed. I also convinced him to outsource most of the in house work to other companies to free our tech team for the work that needed most attention, i.e., products and services. I also found and installed some tools on the office network with which team members could easily share documents and collaborate. I also started working on the most desired tool of the HRs after my office hours. The task was very simple but it was hyped to be a long time-wasting activity. The tool was ready in a couple of days and I uploaded it on our production server.

With the new tool, Analysts were able to work from any place and were not restricted to office only. The real-time model of the tool facilitated the HRs with more control on the current information. I also integrated most of the company activities with the social networking world and started working on the back-end part of our products that were never thought of.

Still my task of revamping the business model is not over and I am continuously seeking best practices. Some things got fixed and some are still in the process.


Sometimes a little change in our working attitude and mixing innovation can give positive results. If you keep thinking of mixing innovation in most areas of your life, you can reduce a lot of donkey work, eliminate disinterest and find time for more creative work. The habit of innovating makes you more creative and productive at the same time. As Brian Tracy wrote in his book Eat That Frog:

“We are too occupied in a task that need not be done at all.”

Find ways to eliminate such tasks and give more time to what is actually urgent. Because all you have is 24 hours in a day.

Share your views with me.


Photo Credit: Anonymous, Lomza/Gdansk, Podlaskie, Poland


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