The question of the day is as follows: how do you train a new hire to be an innovative employee?
My evil plan was to give them my own personal tasks without informing their managers. However, I discovered that there are certain managers within EMC reading my public blog and I received some interesting emails in response to said plan.
So the question remains. I thought I'd work backwards by focusing on the end result. At the end of the 27 month period, I would hope that the team of new hires will have created an interesting prototype or product proposal that solves a relevant customer problem in a fresh new way. During the 27 month period they would follow some sort of "plan" to arrive at the end result. This "plan" would essentially be the training ground for innovation.
So I've divided up the plan into 9 month segments.
- Focus on productivity. Excel at whatever assignment you are given. Become an expert in something. There's no better way to have your ideas taken seriously at EMC than to exceed the goals you've been given.
- Attend the 2010 Innovation Showcase in person. It is probably the most unique day of the year at EMC and it's worth dropping everything and soaking it all in. To attend in person is a privilege and the scope of what happens is eye-opening.
- Start visiting customers. I'm thinking of a field trip to the JFK Library. The JFK deployment consists of Captiva, Documentum, PowerPath, CLARiiON, DiskXtender, and Centera. Find out what the pain points are, and what the future plans are. Pay close attention to any customer statements that are of great personal interest.
- Start a path of education on one or more EMC, academic, or industry technologies that seem related to the customer statements.
This next phase of the training would place an emphasis on collaboration. The first bullet, once again, is key:
- Continue to deliver on your EMC commitments. Innovation is likely to continue as a background task. Learn how to do both, which may involve practicing the art of "innovation concealment" (if the manager gets a little antsy about "all this work on fun stuff").
- Continue to visit customers. Perhaps re-visit, and collaborate on ideas that are starting to form.
- In the continued quest to learn new technologies, collaborate with the experts that actually BUILD these technologies. For example, if a new hire is trying to achieve VMware certification, then talk directly to VMware experts.For security certification, talk to our RSA encryption experts. Leverage the advantage of working at a large company that has acquired brilliant technologists.
- Visit academic environments that collaborate as a matter of course. One idea would be to make a visit to the MIT Media Lab or EMC Cambridge Research.
- Submit an idea into the EMC Innovation Contest 2011.
Month 18 should involve some sort of "pitch". A customer problem should be presented, along with an idea solution, and an implementation outline. Make the pitch to customers as well.
- Build something cool while continuing to be productive.
- Demo the implementation, inside and outside of EMC.
- Be persistent in the selling of idea and know that there will be roadblocks, feedback (some good, some bad), and rejection.
- Get advice from the technical community at EMC (e.g. Fellows and Distinguished Engineers) on how to deliver ideas.
I'd be interested in getting your feedback on a plan like this. What would you do if your own personal minion(s)showed up? Would your plan be similar at your place of employment? Anything that you might do differently?