A front page article in the November 19th issue of the Wall Street Journal highlights a very unusual way that two leading firms are forcing innovation. They’ve switched employees.
For Google, famous for its creative culture, the upside is that they might persuade P & G to invest more of their $8.7 billion ad budget in Google offerings. For P & G, it’s an eye-opener, not only about how the world of interactivity works, but about how a whole new generation operates.
And while most companies don’t have the opportunity to exchange whole teams of workers for extended periods, there are lots of chances to bring in fresh eyes. For any organization, bringing in customers for a day, or sending executives out to retail environments can spark insight. By routinely bringing in people who do not work in the same offices, any culture can stay connected, learn from different practices in different industries, and keep from drinking too much of their own Kool-Aid.
In a world where innovation is the key to survival, it’s a lesson that every organization should learn. Besides, wouldn’t it be fun to exchange your own crowded schedule and overflowing in-box to play in somebody else’s sandbox?