We all have great people that work for us but sometimes it can be hard to get their full potential out of them. These four steps are easy things to do that can help get the most out of the people you have working for you.
1. Set a mission and some boundaries:
No matter what it is every task from the smallest day to day thing to drastic changes in your company should have a mission and some boundaries to it. How detailed these things are change depending on what it is of course. For making a part in a factory the mission can be as simple as produce x number of parts per hour; while the boundaries could be the tolerances the part has to be within. On the other end of the spectrum is your companies strategic planning for the year where the mission is where you want the company to head and your boundaries are the things you want to avoid or how much resources you can devote to it. In the end everything that happens within our companies has a mission and boundaries and you should take the time to consider them even if it’s just in an informal way.
The Olympic games have been a lot of fun to watch this year. While it is exciting when your country or favorite athlete wins gold, it is also exciting to see athletes break world records.
In London 24 world records were broken and as I’m writing this there have been 21 records broken in Rio. These records are the result of innovation. People are not only working harder, but working smarter. Better competition, better technology, and sadly in some cases better drug cheating. We see the result of all the progress on display during the games, but just like when an organization ships a new innovation, we don’t see all the work that made the once impossible, possible.
Doing something new to the world is clearly a great way to win. It is tough to lose a race while running faster than every human in history. But with this uniqueness comes doubt. It isn’t believable to others that you can do the impossible even while you’re doing it.
Once upon a time, our magazine news consumption was somewhat easier. We were constrained by what you could afford to buy and carry around, if you subscribed, the updates came either weekly or monthly. If you did pay-as-you-go it was necessary to find a way to the news counter. It was not unknown for me to get through a month with but a single copy of National Lampoon Magazine…and my books…The Lord of the Rings, Catch 22, The House of Sixty Fathers.
Now I am older, more proper, more mature, as a friend of mine says.
I have an assistive reading, or hand-held, device.
No excuse to not be current on business and innovation. Just to be sure, this past week I saw a list of the 5 Most Important Business Magazines. Not to be outdone, I saw a competing list of the 10 Most Important Business Magazines (yes, there was overlap). This longer list was followed by another 81 recommended business magazines. Any of these can be delivered to my hand-held device immediately upon the release of any new story. Not only can I get the story via their “app”, I can get an email or I can get a “twitter-thing” about it.
People often ask us where to start and what about training? We wanted to share one companies experience with the trianing we LOVE the most:
Picture the scene: ‘Eureka Ranch’ in suburban Ohio; a meeting of professional minds from such diverse backgrounds as an international supermarket giant, Hawaiian culture programme INPEACE and a Canadian fish company; a super-charged week of 12 hour days with exercises timed against the clock and assignments graded in real time; a ‘no whining’ policy in place; and American-sized food portions and a self-serve M&M bar that would keep us fueled throughout.
It was the scene of our ‘Blue-Belt’ training in Innovation Engineering last month. IE is a world class innovation system deployed by power brands like P&G and with $8 billion worth of innovations in active development. The claims are no less impressive than its calibre: increasing speed to market by up to six times and reducing risk by 30-80%, and they have data from more than 20,000 innovations and 33 years of quantitative research to back it up.
We all have fears.
Some are rational, some are not.
Some drive us to action, some freeze us into stagnation.
When innovating, one must drive out fear in oneself and one’s team. It is only through reducing fear that we can drive the action forward and to success.
Which of the following fears is the biggest for you and your team, and what could you do to reduce each to help your innovation?
Atelophobia – fear of not being good enough or imperfection.
Allow yourself or your team to “fail.” None of us get it right the first time. Remember learning to ride a bike? You fall - a lot. You get scratched up. But, you get back up on that bike and start balancing and pedaling again. Same in innovating. When you or your team falls short of what you had hoped, share that learning with the team and together pivot and improve so next time is better. And then celebrate that failure so everyone understands that is OK and something that should happen.
Is Innovation a priority where you work?
Is “being Innovative” one of your skill sets?
Okay, Pop Quiz.
1. Can you DEFINE "Innovation"?
2. Are you having FUN Innovating?
3. Can you REPLICATE success with Innovation?
Let's see how you did.
1. DEFINITION: If you answered yes, my follow on question to you is, "Is
your definition the the same as the one your coworkers would give?" If you can't define it, how do you know if you're doing it? Or doing it well?
We use a simple definition. Innovation is equal to Meaningful Uniqueness. A Meaningfully Unique idea or solution meets the following criteria; A) the idea is MEANINGFUL to three parties, the organization, the customer/stakeholder, and the individual who works on it, and B) the idea is UNIQUE compared with alternative options.
This definition guides our work. We often say, if you're not Meaningfully Unique, you better be cheap. And that applies to your product, service, processes, and YOU as an individual.
Leading Innovation is about choices. The big choice to do innovation could almost be considered the easy one. Innovation is shown to make a meaningful impact to a bottom line, to a company’s return, to employee pocket books, and morale. Doing the new thing isn’t necessarily hard, it’s NOT doing other things that forces you to make choices that’s hard.
When innovation is at stake, when you have people clamoring, “We can’t work any more! Our plates are full! Innovation is nice, but we have no time! We’re too busy!” It would be easy at that point to walk away and just put off the innovation decision until later. Until the day when your employees come back and tell you, “What else can we do for you? We’ve finished all of our tasks early and we’d like to do more. We noticed that earnings aren’t what they once were so we’d like to give back a bit of our pay.” (And if you’re saying to yourself, that’s a long-shot - you’d be right.)
Our friends at Innovation Leader recently reached out to us and asked if we would answer a question from one of their readers. Below is an excerpt from Maggie Pfeifer, Director of Education, response to the question:
Q&A: How to start training on innovation?
This member question was answered by Maggie Pfeifer, Director of Education at Eureka! Ranch, which is a nearly 30-year-old firm that has developed a method for increasing innovation speed and decreasing risk. A partner of Innovation Leader, Eureka! developed a field of study known as “Innovation Engineering” with the University of Maine. Because of Eureka’s extensive experience educating executives at many of our members’ companies, we thought Maggie was uniquely positioned to answer this member question…
Question: Was fascinated by the educational / training data in your 2015 Innovation Benchmarking Report. We’re in the process of starting an educational / training initiative around innovation, and could use some guidance on where to start. Is there a typical starting point for these programs? We’re a relatively big company (15,000+ employees) and are struggling with whether we begin in marketing, product management, product development, executive management, etc. Any thoughts or best practices or the progression / trajectory of such programs???
In today’s age collaborating with people around the globe is easier than ever. We’re at a point where working remotely is almost as easy as working with those in the same room as you. The trouble comes in when you need to make major changes. When a major change is needed the delay in email or messaging and the impersonal nature of video conferencing can hinder progress to a significant extent.