Tuesday 26th June 2018
Richard Gerver, internationally renowned speaker and author, recently gave his thoughts on bringing in innovative ideas into a business through talented individuals:
“Some years ago, I found out about an amazing project run by the Dutch Water Ministry. I know what you’re thinking; really? Water? Let’s set the scene though, in The Netherlands, the Ministry responsible for water is possibly the most important of all Government offices. After all, managing water levels when you live below sea level could be a real issue.
They knew that every year, they needed fresh ideas from outside the organisation in order to find new solutions to problems that they were finding difficult to solve. Yes, their people were great; highly skilled and passionate about water, but the issue was that they hung out together all day, every day. Most came from similar backgrounds and had similar experiences, which meant that ideas tended to be recycled at best. It was a little like staring at a word search for so long, that you just become blind to it.
Every summer though, they would invite young students from all over the world to apply to spend their vacation at the Ministry of Water in Utrecht. Every summer, they would sift through the thousands of applicants and invite 20 young people to work with them. So they came; all under 20 years old and from all over the globe, with very different skill sets; some from STEM backgrounds and some from arts, cultural and humanities specialties. The ministry then pitched them their problems and gave the young interns the space, resources and time to generate new solutions. Every year without fail, the programme has resulted in ideas that have been adopted to solve major challenges.
Innovation, stimulated from the outside, by motivated young people. I often wonder if more of us should find a way to adopt a similar strategy. We shouldn’t wait for employees to come to us neatly packaged and fully trained. Maybe we should find a way to utilise their talents sooner.”