Summary of If You Cut Employees Some Slack, Will They Innovate?

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Innovative companies such as 3M and Google allow their employees to set aside 15-20% of their work hours to fiddle with their own ideas. Yet other companies have found that slack time and a well-equipped workspace won’t automatically translate into more innovation. In their article for MIT Sloan Management Review, researchers Yasser Rahrovani, Alain Pinsonneault and Robert D. Austin explain why. 

In this summary, you will learn

  • What kinds of slack resources companies can provide to boost innovation and
  • How employee type determines the effectiveness of individual slack resources.  
 

About the Authors

Yasser Rahrovani and Robert D. Austin are professors of information systems at Ivey Business School in Canada. Alain Pinsonneault is an information systems professor at McGill University, Canada.

 

Summary

To promote innovation, companies have been experimenting with ways of encouraging employees to pursue new ideas. Companies can provide “slack resources” in three different ways. The first is time: Google, for example, has set aside one paid work day a week for employees to pursue their own projects in a pressure-free environment. The second resource is technology: Supplying additional hardware and software that go beyond what employees require to do their jobs opens up opportunities to explore. The third slack resource is support – giving employees access to experts who can help them develop and implement their ideas.


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