Spreading the word within your organization about a great new idea can be one of the toughest parts of the innovation process. As we evolved the STREET model for innovation adoption, we added “Evangelize” as a distinct stage because many of our clients who run emerging technology groups for a living told us they spend an enormous amount of time on this activity – that is, trying to inspire others to action when they had no real authority to enforce change.
It’s always good, then, to see approaches to evangelizing that work, and in particular ones that have staying power. One idea from Google that drew a lot of attention a couple of years back was a skunkworks initiative called “Testing on the Toilet”, or TotT. Google’s Testing Grouplet is a group of volunteer engineers who dedicate their spare time to evangelizing the importance of testing and socializing new approaches and best practices. Their most successful evangelizing initiative was the idea of posting one-page episodes about testing techniques above the urinals and in the stalls of the office bathrooms. Like most truly inspired ideas, this one gives benefits to both sides – the originators of the testing ideas get a broad audience and the readers get something to do during an otherwise mundane activity. A New York Times perspective from one of the grouplet’s founders comments that the idea even led to a new vernacular – “Excuse me, I need to go read about testing” became a euphemism for a visit to the bathroom.
The TotT blog which collects the testing episodes is still active with lively and entertaining descriptions of new testing ideas (who’d have thought?). Each entry offers a pdf download for easy printing and bathroom posting.
TotT is an idea that has value far beyond testing (perhaps we should call it XotT), and one which could be a low-cost evangelizing activity for even the most conservative organizations. And just think of the possibilities once we get electronic paper in those bathrooms (on the door that is, not on the roll).
What other novel ideas have you seen for spreading the word about an innovation or best practice?