A recent research study carried out by Philipp Cornelius, Assistant Professor at the Rotterdam School of Management looks at temporary assignments within the business and how they can support innovation.
The study reviewed the working practices of 2,500 frontline colleagues within a manufacturing facility. Using an approach called Strategic Frontline Mobility, employees were given different assignments in different locations.
The study showed a large benefit in knowledge sharing. Individuals increased there 'know-why' (as opposed to know-how) leading to a greater understanding of why their roles are important in the grand scheme of operations.
It was demonstrated that frontline mobility made colleagues better innovators, with the new assignments stimulating learning. Having exposure to different principles helped develop a better understanding of general best practice.
Working closely with other teams led to opportunities to spot where there may be a duplication of efforts or unnecessary processes in how the business was supported by their tasks. The study shows how frontline mobility created innovation with the average move creating €100,000 in manufacturing efficiencies in one month.
During the COVID pandemic a large number of organisations have, rightly, promoted home-working. Perhaps this has led to less knowledge sharing and a reduction in frontline innovation that can help organisations evolve.
Finding a way to encourage greater collaboration between different departments will be a challenge in the post-pandemic world and perhaps a practical step, such as frontline mobility, can help to ensure the good ideas keep coming from the frontline.
Can this approach translate to your business? Would this work in industries such as healthcare, retail and construction?