For professional services teams, innovation is essential. But, without a practical look into project innovation an organization could be wasting valuable time.
A project team should take a systematic approach to knowledge sharing for the whole project team to benefit from it. Collaboration is key in being able to implementing innovative project processes and increase core project performance.
With knowledge of previous failed projects, project teams have the insights into what worked and what didn't. This knowledge can be applied to future projects as a learned experienced and communicated to increase overall effectiveness of service delivery one change at a time.
When Archimedes leapt from his Syracuse bathtub, he unwittingly did a major disservice to the entire future of innovation. It was the foundation for the myth of the “Eureka” moment – a single flash of inspiration that comes out of the blue.
Experience, of course, tells us otherwise: while no-one doubts the value of inspiration, the reality is that the majority of ideas and innovations are the outcome of protracted wrestling with a problem – whether in scientific discovery or professional service delivery.
Problems are typically solved through hard graft and a systematic approach: building on layers of existing knowledge, reviewing expert literature and past projects, casting aside a host of initial suggestions and in some cases running extensive scenario modelling to test different options.
Put another way, solutions are based on cumulative knowledge and collaboration. These are the essential foundations, the preconditions, for targeted innovation – particularly in a world where, no matter how much we claim that every project is unique, the overwhelming majority of issues have been encountered before.
Deep down, professional services project managers are well aware of this. It’s why you do your best to impose standard processes, ensure regular reviews and encourage the team to share ideas. But on your own, there’s only so much you can achieve. If knowledge is only exchanged via you, then the potential value of collaboration is minimized.