Destroying Comfort Zones

When discussing ways to propel an R&D organization forward by increasing productivity and innovation, I usually advise my clients to stop doing what is too easy. Rarely do people come up with novel approaches when they are cruising along, not being challenged.

Here are some ideas to go out of your comfort zone, either yourself as the leader or for your team. I challenge you to pick at least one to try in the next couple of months.

  • Hire people for potential: Some of the best hires I’ve seen were people who came lacking some experience and grew at incredible speed. If you only aim at seniors with a proven track record, you miss out.
  • Shuffle some responsibilities, big or small: stop letting the 2-3 senior engineers be in charge of handling all production issues and force them not to touch a keyboard the next time it happens.
  • Drop 50% of the meetings on your calendar for a couple of weeks. Don’t reschedule them, don’t attend them – statuses, overviews, etc. What will go wrong?
  • Have a blitz 1:1 week with 15 employees (not direct reports) you haven’t talked to in a while. You’d be surprised what you might learn.
  • Change seating in the office: either moving entire teams or shuffling people in the open space, whatever works.
  • Have a brain-swap sprint: make some of the people change teams for a sprint and work on things they aren’t proficient with.
  • Run a hackathon to let people address the things that bother them the most.