Rewarding Adaptability – Digital Freedom Challenge

Digital freedom2

My idea (hack) for the Management Innovation Exchange, international  Digital Freedom Challenge has been shortlisted as a finalist.

It is called Rewarding Adaptability

The organizers said:

The Digital Freedom Challenge team evaluated contributions from innovators from around the world and from every kind of organization—looking for depth, boldness, originality, thoroughness, and the ability to inspire and instruct in equal measure. We certainly found those qualities in your contribution!


Crowd funding for adaptability: encourage an internal market in adapbatilbty activities by having employees with ideas to bid for resoruces and other employees to bet on the most succesful ideas

Recognition programmes: Directly and immeidatly rewarding those employees whose behavours support the design principles

Time awards: reward those who come up with innovative and creative suggestions supporting adaptability, specific time to develop their thinking and ideas.


In many organisations ideas are generated from the top of the organisation or from the “Research and Development” department.  There are complex management processes to turn ideas into projects.  As a  result the creativity of the workforce and their implicit knowledge is lost to the organisation

The problem the Hack addresses is outlined by  Doz and Kosenen’s work on strategic agility.  Managers hoard their resources rather than actively sharing with others.  This hack challenges the management orthodoxy that they control resources and workers utilise them at management command.


The approach is based on the concept of crowdfunding innovative ideas by creating and developing an internal market in adaptability.  This is achieved by each employee being able to propose a project idea and put it forward to all employees.  Individuals have a “bank” of hours – for example ten per month; that they can bid against individual projects.

The projects with the highest number of hours bid goes into process.

There is a parallel incentive plan that rewards employees who have come up with successful projects with a percentage of the hours bid as “free time” for them to use as they wish; either for holiday, or to work on the project or to be converted to cash.

This is a total break with the normal approach on idea generation and project management.  It puts power, in the form of resources, into the hands of employees rather than management.

Practical Impact

The hack is stunningly simple.  Here is an example of the approach:

This allows employees to make bids simply against a project and against their own budget.

Each employee will write a presentation for their project with a time and skills budget which will be shared with employees

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