Denis Hauptly is one of those people.
He’s a vice president of Technology Strategy in Thomson Reuters Global Resources and has been with the company for more than 12 years. He’s also held a variety of positions in the federal courts and the United States Department of Justice. He has written four books and numerous articles on history and law. Hauptly’s latest book is “Something Really New” which focuses on building a culture of innovation.
We’ve asked Denis to contribute to WestBlog from time to time over the coming months and we’re pleased to kick off that conversation with some of his thoughts on creating an innovative workplace:
A long, long time ago (1954) in a galaxy far, far away (New Jersey) I watched Walt Disney (who, unlike Betty Crocker, was a real person) throw a ping pong ball into a room filled with mousetraps – each of which had a ping pong ball resting on it.
The first ping pong ball set off one of the mousetraps, which released a second ping pong ball which meant that two ping pong balls were loose and would soon hit two more mousetraps… and so on.
It was marvelous to see.
It was a demonstration of a chain reaction, a phrase defined as “a sequence of reactions where a reactive product or by-product causes additional reactions to take place.” Notice in the ping pong example that the sequence is entirely random. Where the first ping pong ball will hit is unknowable. Therefore each later collision (reaction) is not predictable and not replicable.
Creating innovative environments is a lot like the ping pong experiment. Remember that in innovation we are trying to break out of the box. We are trying to broaden our perspective and to see the world in a different way. One way to do that is to break our own patterns, to introduce some randomness in our own lives.
In your business, do you always see your products as a developer, designer or marketer? If so, can you change your role even for a day and see it from someone else’s shoes? Do you talk to the same people with the same perspectives most of the time? Take a marketer to lunch (don’t worry, you won’t have to fight over the check). Do you work on the same aspect of the product every day? Switch roles, or (if you are a manager) move your people into different areas on a regular basis.
In short, increase and diversify your interactions. Interactions among people with diverse perspectives (professional and cultural) leads to innovation. Staying in a one-dimensional world leads to stagnation.
So throw a ping pong ball into the mix and see what happens. You will be surprised.
Vice President, Technology Strategy
Thomson Reuters Global Resources