Don't follow the herd

Using people who like to be different


Some people will rightly focus on implementation, due process, risk mitigation, cost control, and health and safety. But others like to lead a more free-flowing life, and prefer to think outside the box.

Finding and separating the right creative staff from current duties and putting them into a specialised unit will go some way towards unlocking their ability to think about longer term innovation issues, rather than being hobbled by short term day-to-day operational ones.

The concept of a separate R&D unit is used in a variety of businesses, and research evidence shows that it can be a productive way to focus the attention of selected people in the business on future thinking.

Some firms use only their own staff in their R&D unit, but some also recruit big-hitting freelance consultants on regular contracts – for example for a few days a month – keeping costs down and remaining flexible, so the unit can expand or contract as needed.

There is a further advantage to using outsiders: they are not part of the internal culture and systems. By remaining outside they may be better placed to be able to continue to innovate, over a longer period of time, rather than becoming “one of us.”

Managing the right mix of internal and external staff within an R&D unit can create a powerful team for innovation.


Make the most of your black sheep