Promote agile IT project management: 5 tips for more innovation


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How do you do it? Company and IT departments to work and position themselves to best promote and empower their employees' innovation potential?

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Stefan Schwarzgruber Stefan SchwarzgruberStefan Schwarzgruber has been responsible for the business development of Stackoverflow in the DACH market since 2015.

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Addicted to innovation

Everyone is addicted to innovation. Hardly a day goes by without innovation being talked about in the media, business and politics.

Because some of today's ideas have the potential to become the Apple, Google and Facebook of tomorrow. And especially tech creations created through IT and code - developers are the ones who write the script of the future.

Tip 1: Create space

We all know it: When the desk is overflowing with tasks and deadlines, your head is not free for new ideas. Overwork and time pressure are the biggest innovation killers - and yet many companies are continuing as before. This must be over, and companies should give their employees free rein to support their own ideas and give them time to think.

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But here is: creativity can not be planned! Instead of observing fixed times and brainstorming in the group in the calendar, employees should be given fundamental freedoms - for example, in the form of free time, during which they can work on their own projects and specific problems outside the usual office routine. Also helpful are specially designed rooms where employees can freely devote themselves to different solutions and their ideas. Above all hackathons are conceivable in IT, in which employees and friends as well as other IT experts come together and all work together and off the daily business routine to develop new projects and hopefully to achieve a veritable flow state. The ideas flow only in this way and are created by different groups together.

Tip 2: Examine corporate culture and promote knowledge sharing

If companies want to be innovative in the long term, they also have to review their own corporate culture. Does culture even make it possible to give one's own employees freedom? Do employees perceive the opportunities offered or do they not dare to do so because of the prevailing competition? Do individual employees and departments exchange their knowledge?

Managers have the task to create an atmosphere of free exchange of knowledge and to lead by example. Specifically, this means: Not the own ego should be in the foreground, but the common goal. Above all, open communication channels help, so that everyone can talk to everyone. Thus, the temptation is not so great as to speak 'of my project / code / idea' rather than 'our performance'. In addition, employees should also be supported in further education - be it through special courses, conferences or mentoring programs.

A nice side-effect for companies in enabling their employees to participate in conferences and meetups: Employees are creating new networks for the company, potentially creating valuable partnerships or meeting new employees in the future.

Tip 3: Several teams are more successful

Numerous studies from different disciplines prove it: Teams whose members have different backgrounds, educational paths and views are more fact-oriented, more creative and therefore simply more successful. Diversity is not only useful for companies from a social perspective, but also a tough one success.

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For example, a McKinsey study found that companies with higher gender diversity in their leadership teams have an 21 percent increase in the likelihood of above-average profitability. Companies with employees from different cultural backgrounds have an 33 percent increased likelihood of above-average margins (before taxes and interest). Furthermore, the study "Do Pro-Diversity Policies Improve Corporate Innovation?" Proves that companies with diversity policies are more innovative and publish more diverse products. "It's really that simple," sums up the co-author of the study Richard S. Warr succinctly.

Tip 4: offer job exchange

Unfortunately, it is often the case that the same tasks always lead to the same solutions. In other words, routine is deadly for innovation. Some companies are breaking new ground and empowering their employees to take up new positions within the company. The online retailer AboutYou, for example, has incorporated this change concept into its strategy. Each developer can switch to another team as soon as a position is vacant there while also expanding their leadership skills and abilities.

The new impulses and challenges prevent crippling habits and employees bring new knowledge into their projects. Anyone who has walked in someone else's shoes will in future also understand the challenges of their colleagues and can better support them. Another side effect: Employees are not so quickly seduced by the internal change opportunities to look at other employers for new challenges.

Tip 5: taking risks

Last but not least, darf ein Klassiker des Motivationstrainings nicht fehlen: Wer nicht wagt, der nicht gewinnt! Innovationen zeichnen sich dadurch aus, dass sie Bestehendes in Frage stellen und neue Wege beschreiten. Wer denkt, er könne dabei alle Risiken vermeiden, hat das Prinzip nicht verstanden. Oftmals aus Angst und Unsicherheit geborene Denkmuster à la „Das haben wir schon immer so gemacht“ bedeuten vor allem eines: Stillstand. Führungskräften kommt hierbei die Aufgabe zu, eine Kultur des Scheiterns zu etablieren. Statt stets nur Erfolge zu feiern, ist vielleicht auch mal eine „F&*k! Up Session“ nötig.

Companies can already encourage risk-taking with their structures - for example, by setting up independent teams for pilot projects, specializing in projects, launching an innovation lab or buying up innovative smaller companies.

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As with many things in life, you can not force new ideas and innovations at the touch of a button. It takes a lot of groundwork to prepare the ground for new ideas to take root. And since all companies are made up of people, they have to invest in their own employees: they have to be encouraged, supported and work together on new ideas.


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