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Without projects, there’s no innovation: why companies should rely on their own employees.

Projects, projects, projects! They are a driving force for innovation and change, and defining and developing new projects is vital to every company. In most cases, however, project initiation and project staffing are implemented following a classic top-down approach. This is often complicated, expensive, and does not necessarily contribute to a good working environment. In today’s companies, project initiation and staffing can work differently: direct, simple and driven by people. It’s time for a change.

Project work within organizations has become increasingly important in recent years. A study conducted by the GPM (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement e. V.) in 2015 found that over one third of the German gross domestic product was generated by projects; this trend continues to grow. However, projects should not just be carried out; they should serve tools for innovation.

External experts = innovative projects?

Top-down project implementation:

  • a topic is considered so important that a project is set up for it
  • in many cases, an external agency or a consultant will be added first
  • in the best-case scenario, they identify and appoint a project staffer internally to seek further “resources” within the company


  • the project team consists of the same colleagues who always work on projects
  • the project staffing is still labor- and time-intensive and therefore expensive
  • the ideas and creativity of one’s own employees are not appreciated adequately, since they are not the main drivers of the project and topics are handed out top-down

Does that sound like an exaggeration? In many companies, this is the reality and is typical of the project implementation process.

We know it can work differently!

Bottom-up project implementation:

  • an employee has a great idea for a project that affects an important topic or a current challenge in the company
  • the employee puts his project idea on the agenda and looks for the most qualified supporters among his colleagues


  • employees and their ideas are valued
  • a real exchange of knowledge between colleagues from different disciplines develops
  • the project is driven by people who know the company and know what is important
  • commitment and self-initiative are promoted and strengthened
  • employee satisfaction increases

Does this sound exaggerated, too? It’s not. It’s an alternative and already-proven way for how project initiation and project staging can work.

Direct, simple, and driven by people, with short channels for open communication. Not only can successful projects be implemented, but a completely different message is also sent to employees at the same time. The supposed “danger” that employees come up with the most esoteric ideas and suddenly only implement projects and no longer do “real” work rarely happens in practice – this does not occur in a vacuum, detached from company culture and its rules. Furthermore, it is something of a luxury if employees inundate their managers with a flood of ideas – it’s something for which new rules of cooperative collaboration and agile organization can be developed together, perhaps via a project group.

Think innovation doesn’t arise without external impulses? Fair enough, and in many cases, that is quite reasonable – as long as this basic attitude remains: the most important experts needed for change and innovation are already there.


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