Delivering resultsMaking innovation pay-off

Time commitment

Bringing an idea to practice requires you to make a time commitment, often in personal time. Successful innovators find ways to prioritize their innovation project, regardless of how busy they are. Whereas lack of time commitment is one of the most common reasons innovation projects fail. Blocking off time in your calendar to devote to your project can be helpful.


We all have just 24 hours in a day, also the most successful people. What successful people do differently, is that they are very diligent about how they spend their time.

Recently, I was coaching two teams both passionate about their projects. One was a team with two full-time students, the other a team with two emergency care physicians.

Who do you think quit the program, because they were too busy?

It was the student team. From the start, these students kept making excuses for why they had not done the work I asked them to do. In the meantime, the physicians found time to do the work in spite of their night shifts and long commutes. A week and a half later, the students quit the program because they were too busy.

How much time are you able and willing to commit?

For most participants in our T4 online innovation training program, the time investment they are making during the first phase of the program is a commitment of personal time.

How much time can you afford to spend on this project? Would spending a total of ten hours of personal time on exploring the opportunity be worth it? How much time are you willing to commit to know if your idea will fly?

Make time

Besides setting hours aside, you also want to make sure you get the most out of these hours.

HBS professor Teresa Amabile says that over-commitment is one of the worst things we can do for our productivity.

"If you don't keep an eye on the commitments you've made or are making, there is no time management technique that's going to solve that," she says.

Source Progress Principle

Formalize your commitment

So, how many hours do you plan to commit? 1 hour per week? 8 hours? To get started, you only need to commit a few hours each week to your innovation project.

If you cannot commit more than two hours per week, I recommend that you invite others to join your team. That way you can spread the workload and keep things moving.

Before considering the hours you can commit, it is helpful to roughly estimate the total amount of hours that should be spent on this project to reach your next milestone.

How many hours do you think your team will need to spend on the project to reach the next milestone? Ten hours to create a project description? Forty hours to draft the business case?

And how many hours are you able to commit during the next 4 weeks?

What are you not going to do?

And assuming that you are already fully committed, that means something will have to give.

In order to stick with the commitment you just made, what are you not going to do? For example, I love reading the newspaper. It takes me about 30 minutes on a weekday and 60 minutes or so on the weekend to get through the newspaper. When I had to write a proposal for one of our projects, I decided that for that period of time, I would limit myself to the front page of the newspaper each workday. That gave me 5x25 minutes of time to finish the proposal. I stuck to it, as I knew what I was giving up to get it done.

How are you going to make or free up the hours you plan to commit to your innovation project?

Block your calendar

Last but not least, when are you going to spend time on this project? From personal experience, I know that it helps to block time off in your calendar. So make a set of appointments with yourself in your calendar, that will enable you to commit time and accomplish the next milestone. No need to plan too far ahead. Just plan these appointments till you have reached the next milestone. Milestones are a good moment to re-evaluate your time commitment.

And for the teams mentioned at the start. Passion for your project is a must, but it alone will not make you successful. You have to commit time to bring your ideas to practice, otherwise, you will never succeed.



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