Save Innovation with a Corporate SWAT Team!

How many times have you had a great idea? One that would really improve the way things operate around your workplace? It seemed great, there were really no objections, but then...well, it went nowhere.

Most of us are extremely busy and one of the biggest challenges to new ideas is being able to set aside the time to develop and implement those innovations. In recent years, we've seen the impact of high unemployment, company lay-offs and more stressful amounts of work placed on the employees who remain. Creativity is one of the first luxuries to go in that type of environment.

Creativity and innovation are an absolute requirement for a business to remain successful in a changing world. If cavemen were never innovative, we would still be in caves, struggling to build fires and using sticks and stones for tools. Innovation is the way forward and the path to the future. Companies that ignore that concept do so at their own risk and peril.

So where do good ideas come from and where do they go? Innovation comes from your creative staff members who can and do take the time to think through processes and ideas and look for new ways to do things. Sometimes, that means experimenting and trying new methods.

Creating new ideas is only part of the process. Once there is a good idea floating around, the practicality of getting it implemented becomes the next challenge. I know that some of my own ideas, brilliant as I thought they were (debatable, of course) quickly died when I started thinking about what could be involved. There could be a capital requirement, perhaps an information technology piece. Approval from a senior leader or training to be supported by yet another department. Along the way, there are many skeptics and naysayers ready to give your super brilliant idea the ax. It is easy to see how hard it is for an idea to survive.

I've often thought that companies need some type of corporate SWAT team to take on special projects and execute them. Police departments train officers in Special Weapons and Tactics to take on those atypical missions, something that is more involved than what the 'average' police officer may be ready to handle. Dynamic entries, hostage rescue and high-risk arrests are some of the missions a SWAT team might be involved in. Probably much more exciting-sounding than most corporate projects, but it does create an idea (there I go again).

What if companies had a special team to help implement projects above and beyond the normal routine. Corporate directors and managers do not necessarily have the time to implement new ideas and may not know the best approach or who to contact within the organization. The SWAT team would be able to do just that, paving the way to accomplishment. Members should have additional training in project management, including budgeting and being able to build key teams with the right stakeholders, manage meetings and execute the mission, in this case, implement a brilliant idea. The team would need executive support, as well as its own budget to work with. Understanding the strategic goals of the organization is also fundamental to successful innovation and implementing the right ideas.

Perhaps they could use the same acronym to be recognizable. Special Workplace Achievement Tactical team or something to that affect (okay, I'm not always that creative).

Being able to develop brilliant ideas into a creative and innovative approach to business is vital for long-term survival. Companies that encourage that innovation and can implement new ideas will be the leaders in the future. Those that do not will be the cavemen wondering how to start a fire.

Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense.  He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management.  Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces.  To learn more email



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  1. The idea is fun to ponder, however the semantics are important. At various companies I've seen personnel assigned to "Special Projects." In one case this was a staff position reporting to the CEO. She got some serious work done. More often this title comes with diffuse responsibilities and was primarily used as a means to ease the departure of senior staff.

    I prefer Ad Hoc teams for such work. Identify a cross-disciplinary issue, secure a sponsor, assemble the best and brightest content professionals, accomplish the task, declare victory, and disband.

    1. Ad hoc teams definitely have the flexibility to meet whatever the goal is and a great way to get the right people involved. Unfortunately, it sometimes is hard to get all the right people interested and committed between everyones' busy schedules and some not wanting to take on new projects. In a perfect world, I like the idea of the SWAT team ready to go and tackle any challenge!

  2. What does the SWAT team do, when not engaged in a project,and who takes the team members place in their normal work cycle? It's possible (and possibly "likely") if the SWAT is a permanent fixture it will adopt the practice of creating good ideas. They will attempt to justify their existence; this could lead to all kinds of "corporate meddling" and disruptive behavior, all in the name of creating a better model.

    I too, prefer ad hoc teams. Good ideas are sourced from throughout the organization. It's up to top management to provide the means of recognizing and allowing maturation and implementation.

    1. The problem with ad hoc teams is that the members all get too busy with their 'normal' work. It would really have to be set up as a collateral duty with members setting aside a certain amount of time each week or month to focus on those projects.

      As you said, ideas come from anywhere - the team helps provided the specific set of skills and experience to help realize those ideas (get the right stakeholders together from different departments and manage the project).

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