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But when do you actually set up an innovation lab? In this article, we outline the context in which our lab methodology comes into its own and how its use changes over time. Are you going to create an innovation lab within your organization? Great, but read this article first!
We previously wrote about the importance of learning skills. These skills are crucial if you want to improve and renew structurally. During this learning process, an organization goes through different phases, which we explain using the five-phase model developed by psychologist Bruce Tuckman.
Forming: Employees are at the beginning of change. They look for their place in this change and most of them behave positively and politely. Leaders play a dominant role in this phase because the roles and responsibilities are not yet clear.
Storming: This phase occurs when the way employees are used to working is influenced by the change. As a result, employees can challenge leaders, feel overwhelmed by the amount of work coming at them, or feel uncomfortable with the chosen approach. At such a time, frustration arises which can cause development to stagnate and teams to fail to achieve set goals. At the same time, employees who adhere to the chosen approach may experience stress because they lack support from established processes or rely on strong relationships with colleagues.
Norming: This is when employees embrace differences, identify colleagues’ strengths, value them and respect the authority of their leaders. The transition to the norming phase is gradual. When new challenges come to employees, they can revert to old behavior and (or not temporarily) fall back to the storming phase.
Performing: The structures and processes that have been set up have been accepted and are actively applied by employees. Leaders can delegate a lot of work at this stage so they can focus on employee development.
Adjourning: The change has been implemented and has become a general philosophy. For example, project teams can only exist for a certain period of time and the general philosophy remains safeguarded when teams are restructured. However, employees who like a routine or have close working relationships with colleagues may struggle with this phase.
The lab method consists of a framework process and proven methods and techniques that require time to be applied. In this application, the focus is not on the theory (which model do we apply and why) but on an accessible introduction to learning skills which are new working methods for many organizations. Furthermore, the use of current issues and ideas from employees is important as a starting point. A sense of urgency arises and intrinsic motivation arises more quickly. Factors that are needed in particular in the forming phase to get employees moving.
If the lab methodology is applied actively and widely and the organization enters the storming phase, many employees will feel the need to apply the skills they have encountered in the innovation lab in their daily work. These employees experience the added value and applicability of the methods and techniques and are curious about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind it. This group wants to explore new working methods, discuss them extensively and experiment with them in daily work. However, falling back into old behavior is lurking and persevering is quite a challenge. In this phase, it is important to actively feel and actively guide the team and to be involved in this phase.
It is also important that the innovation lab is accessible to all employees. Avoid a separate innovation department that only a selected group of people is eligible for. This creates the expectation that no one else within the organization may innovate. To make the lab accessible, it is wise to focus on improving and renewing existing (and known to employees) processes, products
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