Innovation at Economics – 10 lessons for the team

In April 2006, when the network service met to discuss ways to improve the business presence on the Internet, The Economist was very successful, thanks. Global traffic had just passed one million; Roll Call sister magazine, had become the most read version of the US Congress; and new titles had been launched in China and India.

All in all, it was time when most companies could be happy to build on what they received. Instead, The Economist approved a proposal by Mike Seery, CIO, to hire a five-member group, as well as within the group, to remove them from current jobs and give them £ 100,000 and six months Innovations on a website, service or business model.

An enthusiastic young team encountered all kinds of problems and challenges. Many would be immediately known by an innovation group. The solutions they found were often clever and the lessons they learned could be applied to thousands of companies around the world.

Rare trip, The Economist team invited me to their office to monitor them at work for the next six months. Here is a tight version of what I saw and learned – for team members, entrepreneurs and other readers to hurry.

Selection of Items

Mike Seery recruited his affiliates from The Economist Group. He set out to attract people from editorial, sales, marketing and information technology. He also managed to bring members from all over the world to the London project.

But collecting team members from such background meant they had a lot of success before they could work together efficiently. For a long time, the countries of technology & # 39; Knowledge of new technology leaves some of the others behind. And a lot of grouping had to be done before the teamwork could start.

The Economist also held open team members for six months as they were on the Project Red Stripe and team members were registered on the premise that this was not a chance for people who were bored with their jobs or want to leave.

Lesson 1: Think carefully if it's better to bring together a team that knows each other, share a common professional language and share your skills – then buy more skills as needed. Or do you want a broad knowledge base, but allow more time for team members to get used to each other?

Lesson 2: Hiring staff members who want to return to their old job at the end of the project, ensures that you do not only get people bored with their work. But safe workers are not necessarily creative. The angry and disaffected can have some of the best ideas.


Although team members chose their own ideas about what The Economist should do next, they started by asking readers and other stakeholders. Thus they put their faith in "The Wisdom Crowds". Actually, & # 39; crowd & # 39; did not come with anything that the team had not already thought of. So you could argue that the time they spent the crowd was a waste of time. But what if they had come up with something magnificent this way? How would you know it without asking?

Lesson 3: Think very carefully about which is the best option to identify the best innovation for your business. Is it you and your team? Your Customers? Experts? Or the whole world?


The team had great freedom. There were no guidelines for any kind of innovation that should be sought and they were free to start the idea without the approval of management. In fact, it made a lot of head and the team was not ready to prevent business by starting an idea they believed without receiving approval from the top. And when they asked for approval, they did not get it.

Too much freedom can also cause trouble with creativity. The project Red Stripe team could do everything. At one point they were working with top NGOs and their advisors to develop companies that would help the UN to achieve one of its Millennium Development Goals. When world peace is within you grab, why would you consider a humdrum, commercial web venture?

Lesson 4: Be realistic about how much freedom you can give an innovation group. It can happen in Millstone.

Lesson 5: & # 39; Think big and # 39; is essential for a major innovation project, especially since it is extremely difficult to get people to think outside the box. But giving people the freedom to try to change the world can let them dazed with strength what they could achieve.


Large businesses are big because they succeed and performance is a barrier to innovation. Why are you trying something new and risky when you work now? If it's not broken, why fix it?

This was true on The Economist who did not need a new company and did not need two main ideas developed by the Project Red Stripe.

Lesson 6: Make a risk assessment. Is the sponsor under sufficient pressure to run with what idea the team comes up with?


At the beginning, Mike Seery organized a number of team building exercises. They felt good and were seen as an important moment in the history of history and in the stories he said about himself. But they also served a certain mindset: "We are good at this and this, but it's not so good that" # 39;

Lesson 7: Sometimes when you have to run developmental training (late when the team is under high pressure) is almost by definition, an instant when you do not have time to run.


Sometimes the Red Red team sometimes turned around & # 39; without clear understanding of what happened next and without clear rules as to how it could happen.

Clearly, it seems like a proper thing for an innovation group to do; but it's also an unpleasant and anxious thing to do. Some say security is a prerequisite for creation. Certainly there were several members of the Red Stripe team who worked the most and fester when they knew where they were going.

Lesson 8: It can be creative to drive unintentionally, but it's also scary. Participants (and financial managers) might want something more regimented. Rules and guidelines can offer a policy or serve as a blink. It may be important to have some clear guidelines before the innovation project begins.


Most groups will probably want to work democratically and continue by common agreement that they are in the right direction. In the project Red Stripe, different members of the team, who were committed to different projects. It made a consensus about only one idea difficult.

Lesson 9: Check if you should choose ideas that raise all or simply for those who control the majority. If you do not find an idea that encourages everyone, how long should you continue to search?


An obvious question for any innovation group is to think about the problems that a particular group of people faces or whether to think about improving existing products, services and skills. Scholars tend to vote for former, but plenty of good innovations come from companies that find new applications for current technology. (Think of classic innovations like 3M and Post-It Notes or NASA and Teflon).

While the Red Stripe team did really work out what they should do, they did not say any ideas about the group they should implement these ideas. Should they have invited archbishop, assistant, genetic investigators and others to cast for a particular audience?

Lesson 10: A descriptive market can be an inspiration, even inspiration. But that does not necessarily mean doing a good business. The team may need guidelines on how to assess business ethics against ethical business.

The Project Red Stripe Economist managed to prevent a number of radical and innovative business orders. It failed because the company chose not to market any of them at the time. It was also able to offer the company strong knowledge about its culture and its future innovation projects – just a few of them are shared here and can give thought to other innovation teams around the world.


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