A video caught my attention the other day on the subject of innovation labs. In it, two Fast Company editors have a back-and-forth debate about whether these types of Labs are actual valuable additions to an organization or, as the counterargument goes, carefully constructed marketing ploys designed to give the illusion of forward-thinking without actually producing anything of value.\nThis is an important topic to me, because I drove the creation of PGi\u2019s own Innovation Lab nearly two years ago. Our Lab has proven itself an invaluable resource to the company and our strategies, creating innovative new products like our smart calendar app iMeet\u00ae Agenday and driving development for wearables and other new platforms.\nWhy create an innovation lab?\nSo why did we create an innovation lab in the first place? Let me start off by telling you what we did not do. We didn\u2019t create it as a marketing ploy or PR initiative. Its goal wasn\u2019t to elevate our stock price or attract the attention of technology blogs. Have we talked about it via channels like PR and social media? Of course, we gave it the same level of attention we give any corporate announcement.\nBut in actuality, the Lab operated in more or less secrecy for months internally before we pulled the curtain back. We wanted sharp minds tackling new problems, not press coverage. And their lean setup allowed them to bring a new product to market faster than at any time in our company\u2019s history.\nWe also didn\u2019t create it as a means of cordoning off innovation into one singular silo, or empowering one small group with the ability to innovate while everyone else is expected to just keep their heads down and do their jobs. We encourage innovation and new ideas across our organization and have dedicated internal resources where any employee can submit feedback and ideas to be seen by product teams and management.\nThe benefits of our Innovation Lab\nIn reality, we created our Innovation Lab as a way of pursuing new ideas while being mindful of the fact that we are still a business with existing customers and products to support. In fact, the Innovation Lab has turned out to be the perfect situation for our company and our business model in that it allows us to continue supporting and developing our existing products while branching out beyond our normal purview and into exciting areas we might not have had the freedom to peer into otherwise.\nAnd one of the unexpected benefits that we\u2019ve seen is how all of these teams can support the other; a breakthrough by our Innovation Lab group on one of their products can be shared with a different product group and vice versa. This two-way street of ideas has already proven itself in the short time our Innovation Lab has been active.\nSo if you\u2019ve ever considered creating or encouraging such a group within your own organization, here\u2019s the advice I\u2019d give you: do it for the right reasons. Do it because you\u2019re committed to actual innovation, not the appearance of it. Do it because you want your company\u2019s actions to speak louder (and produce more results) than its social or PR presence.\nAnd yes, do it because it\u2019s fun, exciting and challenging to try new things.\nIt\u2019s worked for us. And I know it can work for you.\nFor more trends like innovation labs that are affecting how we collaborate in the workplace, download \u201cThe Future of Business Collaboration: 2015 Edition\u201d today.