Showing Your Employees the Door - To Innovation

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Google and Procter & Gamble are swapping their employees so they can learn each other’s tricks in targeting consumers. Over 20 employees at both companies are participating in the exchange.

They can’t do that sitting at their cubicles

Google and Procter & Gamble are showing their employees the door.

It’s not what you think.

Google and Procter & Gamble are swapping their employees so they can learn each other’s tricks in targeting consumers. Over 20 employees at both companies are participating in the exchange.

It’s another phase in open-door innovation that companies are embracing to gain an edge over their competitors in difficult times. Open door innovation is a term coined by Kyle Couch, Vice President Client Learning Experience at The Beacon Group.

In far too many cases, leaders of organizations throw out one of the most over used, and under explained terms “we have to think outside the box.” While the premise is correct, in most cases, the follow through is less than stellar. This is the basis for open-door innovation.

When it comes to “out of the box” one of the easiest, cost effective ways to be innovative is to get out of the office - the “box”. IDEO founder Dave Kelley once noted that most bosses believe that they can tell who their best employees are by keeping track of how much time they spend at their desk. The reality however is quite the contrary. Employees who get outside of their workspace, and see what other companies, industries, cultures and groups are doing - yes out there in the outside world - will be the most innovative.

Open Door Innovation is based on the premise that re-inventing the wheel takes time. And, your organization doesn’t have the time to spare. Not with what’s happening in today’s economy.

Many companies, now including Google and Procter & Gamble, are adopting this technique to foster innovation and open horizons for their employees.

In Google and Procter & Gamble’s case, there’s a lot to be gained from the experience.

“There’s plenty for each company to learn from each other. Google dominates the search advertising market and Procter & Gamble is America’s largest advertiser,” said Couch.

“It’s absolutely essential for Procter & Gamble to understand how younger generations are interacting with the web,” he added. “They can’t do that sitting at their cubicles”.

During the exchange, Procter & Gamble employees learned that searches with the term “coupon” have increased more than 50% in the past 12 months, likely due to recessionary belt-tightening. Procter & Gamble uses coupons extensively in its marketing efforts.

Google and Procter & Gamble’s job swapping was launched last January following a meeting between Jim Stengel, the former Procter & Gamble global marketing officer and Tim Armstrong, president of Google’s advertising sales and operations in North and Latin America.

Your HR team can use one or more of the following tools to bring fast-paced, fresh innovation into your organization with open-door innovation:

Open Houses - in Canada, a number of manufacturing facilities in non-competing industries regularly meet to tour each other’s plants, to learn new techniques, layouts, and processes. This Benchmarking Consortium has led to a number of process improvements, and a wide range of new techniques.

Networking - With the rise of social networking, and sites including Facebook and LinkedIn, the ability to spread knowledge has increased dramatically. Organizations including McCain Foods and Harley-Davidson regularly meet with other executives in non-formal networking groups, in addition to formal Associations to further increase the rate of knowledge sharing.

Friendly Consulting - Constructive feedback tends to resonate when it comes from a friend. Organizations on the cutting edge including The Globe and Mail, VIA Rail, and others have partnered through McGill University to rigorously analyze each other and provide honest, candid feedback at the fraction of the cost of a formal consultant.

Job Shifting - Whether it is the movement of top executives to the front line within their organization to learn (and remember) how their company actually touches their customer - think Southwest Airlines or a number of Major US Banks, or to take this concept further, Samsung regularly sends its top designers and engineers from Korea to Italy, or the US to work in completely different industries including working with artists, and galleries in order to broaden their scope and approach to their respective roles.

Field Trips - One of the easiest ways to start practicing Open Door Innovation is to take groups of employees on field trips. In many cases, simply picking up the phone and contacting another company of interest and asking if you can set up a time to visit their offices or plant is all it takes. This is precisely what Mercedes-Benz USA does within its management training curriculum. If calling on another organization is too daunting a task, websites such as list every available business related tour across the United States, broken down by State.

The Beacon Group is an authority and global pioneer in the field of organizational development. Companies across various industries have used the firm’s assessment products and advising services to leverage their investment in Human Capital. The Beacon Group specializes in Employee Surveys, 360 Feedback Assessments, Early Talent Identification (ETI), Management Training, and Performance Management Systems. Clients including Mercedes-Benz, McDonald’s, Xerox, Sony and SAP have used The Beacon Group’s services to grow their thriving businesses. For more information visit

For media inquiries please speak to Michael Sitayeb at 1-866-240-3948 or email at michaels (at) thebeacongroup (dot) ca

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: on behalf of the company listed above.


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