Friday, June 17, 2011

Strategic Idea Development

New idea development is not about working hard at creating random, pop up, wow ideas that do not fit within the corporate culture. At the same time it cannot be expected that organizations will naturally bubble up and give life to new products or ideas. 

It is this balance between sparked creativity and defined discipline that builds the right spirit at a company allowing new things to come forward and succeed.

The more upfront leg work, planning and defining that is done the better the chances that new ideas and development will be embraced and accepted, vs. looked at as a pain point. 

Again, this upfront work requires time with the leadership of a company to be aligned with the vision, direction and goals otherwise each “new” effort is more about a roll of the dice on how it will be seen or supported/not supported.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What Is Needed For A New Thinking Culture?

Once your thinking becomes focused on creating a change-accepting environment, you can start to walk a new path — one that is less about preserving the past and more about controlling the future. 

Self determination and control of your destiny are grounded in change and a new thinking way of business.

In order to create a change accepting culture:

• Companies need champions of change (change agents)
• They need to support these champions
• Change acceptance MUST start at the top
• Change must be all about relationships, awareness & expectation building
• There must be a predetermined & agreed upon processes for new thinking
• Companies must shift from reactionary to proactive and continual new thinking & improvement
• A culture of change acceptance must be considered a key element of sustainable success
• Utilize the corporate “right brains” for vision and spirit
• Focus on the future without attacking the past
• Share information, insights and thoughts — the more you give, the more people will start to think differently & accept your ideas
• Remember the strategic value of it all — not the nuts & bolts of it all
• Most importantly — focus on strategic thinking

Once change-accepting environments begin to take shape, new ideas and new ways will come into view.

“We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance.”
— Harrison Ford

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Our Business Structure Is Still Circa 1900’s

While technology has forever changed the way business people work, power structures, decision making and direction setting in most businesses hasn’t changed dramatically in the past 100 years.

Many utilize the “duck & cover” style of management, focused on the path of least resistance or change. Most do not come to work every day asking, “So how do I eliminate my power, my job, and my livelihood?”

New thinking will challenge all status quo power structures — and create a feeling like the world is destabilizing. New thinking requires more brain effort than maintaining the status quo.

If you undertake the creation of a change-accepting environment or develop something new, be aware that the “corporate white blood cells” will come to life and do everything in their power to destroy the effort.

Make sure you are up to the challenge!

“I’m a company of one. I have no team, no power; I share people with other projects. I can’t tell people what to do — but I can convince them by appealing to their agenda” – Primal Leadership, p52

Friday, June 10, 2011

New Thinking Dies Because People Fear Change

People want a manageable work life with consistent expectations. They want to maintain what they have; they operate in a “day-to-day survival” mode.

This kind of thinking begins with a WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”) attitude. Employees do not always have the company’s best interests at heart and instead they approach any kind of change with a WIIFM attitude.

The more difficult the change and the wider its impact, the greater the motivation needs to be — both to the organization and to its individuals. Building incentives, dealing with fear and the threat of loss, and identifying opportunities for advancement are just some of the issues that need to be addressed. The key to success is communicating that change is a good thing.

What Made You Great In the Past Will Not Make You Great In The Future

Many businesses emphasize preserving the past, when in reality, past-thinking is a killer. How many times have you heard, but that’s not how we do it? Challenging the status quo can often crush the life out of new thinking.

If you walk into a company whose lobby is loaded with pictures of past presidents and dead guys, or they spend more time explaining history than vision, you are walking the halls of a beast that is craving a return to the past, and who feels the present is more challenging and less fun. I'm not saying change for change sake, instead a realization that nothing remains the same. 

New thinking companies have a forward view, fueled by past success. When their people look at better ways to do things or want to dissect something to see if it could be done better, these companies respond with, “Great!” instead of “Why?”

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Steps to Building a Change-Accepting Environment

When Is New Thinking Called Upon?

In most businesses, the majority of new ideas and solutions evolve from reactions to specific situations, in a domino effect. New thinking is not a built-in, defined part of the company culture, or a key element of the business structure — like accounting or HR — but rather, it is pulled out when needed. New thinking is seen as a cure to a problem, instead of systemic and integrated into the culture of a company. New thinking is typically sought for:

• New Products or Services, New Markets, New Sales
• Old Product, Services or Market Revitalization
• Product or Market Issues/Problems
• New Management and/or Management Changes
• Partnering/Joint Ventures/Mergers
• Competitive Situations
• Performance Issues
• New Technologies
• Personal Health or Crises
• Career Changes or Stall-outs
• Government Actions

What Hinders New Thinking?

If a company’s culture is conflict averse, or even worse, hostile to outsiders, new thinking can be greatly impacted. Things that often negatively impact new thinking include:

• Past Success
• Current Success
• Looking Backward
• Emotions
• Poor Understanding
• Lack of Communications
• Culture of the Organization
• Strong Personalities
• Pack Mentality / Cliques
• Leadership (Lack Of Or Too Strong)
• Group Think
• Not Broke Why Fix It
• Power Struggle Issues
• Too Much Internal Competition

Anyone attempting to develop a business culture that accepts new thinking, new ideas and new people must be honest with themselves and the leadership of their organization. Change acceptance is grounded in candor and openness. Nothing kills change acceptance faster than defensiveness or fear of honest dialogue.

Moreover, change should be attempted when and where it is appropriate and strategic. Too much too soon, or wholesale change, can cause problems. It overloads the organization and 
creates a sense of lack of control. There is a thing called “change fatigue” and it starts the moment change is underway.

Start with something and gain a small win, then move on to the next. In time the wins will add up and the business leadership will think, “Hey, this is just a part of how we operate.” This is why it is so important to start with a planned, endorsed and proactive change.

“People resist it on every level in all sorts of ways, and leaders can be the most resistant of all.” — John Kotter, Harvard Business School

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Steps to Building a Change-Accepting Environment

Where Most People Live

While the world is a big place and we are becoming more and more interconnected with each passing day, the average person’s worldview revolves around a 50-mile radius of their home, and their mindset is one of putting milk on the table and spending time relaxing with family and friends. We don’t think about every global pressure and the market shifts taking place 24/7. This lulls us into thinking that tomorrow will be the same as today; just get up and go at the day like every other day. In some ways we end up “change fatigued,” looking not to embrace it, but to avoid and barricade ourselves against change.

At work, most of us imagine our organizations as a boat on calm waters with only occasional ripples. The visual of a crew, all rowing in sync, is the idea of organizational perfection. We instinctively believe that we exist in a steady state of normal operations, and that change occurs periodically, after which time we return to the status quo.

Today’s reality is nowhere near this thinking. Change is constant — it is never ending — and the status quo is nonexistent. A more accurate visual of business is a white water rapid of organizational, market and product change. The head waters are always in change, driven by globalization, capital constraints and technology. What was will never be again and waiting for this return to normal is not realistic. A better analogy would be a Kayak on a wild river with constantly roiling water.

This new reality provides organizations and individuals clarity about their role with their stakeholders. We need to assess continually how are we doing as a business, as a team, and as individuals within the team. Are we bringing value today, now, this hour, next month, five years from now? Success of the past is not always the best indicator of the success of the future. Instead, the attitude of how to live and operate within a change-filled environment is key. Yes, skills, training and experience can be great helps — but the core thinking, the belief in change as a way of operating, is the most important place to be grounded. You must believe in your heart-of-hearts that change is real; it is present in all we do and that it can be a catalyst for good things.

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Business Thinking

Steps to Building a Change-Accepting Environment

Successful change and new thinking have nothing to do with technology, budget or the best idea. They have everything to do with communications, planning, timing and relationships.

Building a change-accepting environment is not about creativity, it is about strategic relationships and gaining acceptance to open thinking.

“Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.” — Christina Baldwin

Change is inevitable and unavoidable — in our homes, our workplaces and our lives. The sooner we accept and embrace change, the sooner we enjoy, benefit and grow from it.

Yet, as humans, we turn away from change. We try to bend the forces of nature and the laws of physics to make change not happen. We try to work around it, or hope it just goes away. Even unplanned and unpleasant change — the things we cannot control, like the loss of a loved one or a job — can provide impetus to grow. It can force us to reflect on our lives and question whether we have defined a path for ourselves, and if we are following that path.

Rather than allowing change to bog us down or define us, we must use it to help us define a path to building change-accepting environments. In business, the practical processes of new business thinking are counter-intuitive. The idea that something new, better and even necessary will be embraced by all within the business is a common misconception of many business leaders. Irregardless of the size of their company, many business leaders naively believe that everyone within their organization is looking out for and embracing new thinking and new opportunities. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true, which leads to the loss of potentially powerful new opportunities — whether a new product, new business development, new market or new business relationship.

Most changes in business can be anticipated; they are forewarned and obvious. Many times the threat or opportunity was well on the way, obvious and clear — to all but the person or organization impacted by it. Whether any of us realize it or not, we can do very little to avoid the continual assaults and bumps of change — but we can change our mindsets, and our feelings about change. We can embrace it, dance with it, and when necessary, wrestle it to the ground — but never hide from it or ignore it.

Successful change and new thinking has nothing to do with technology, budget or the best idea. It has everything to do with communications, planning, timing and relationships.
Building a change-accepting environment is not about creativity, it is about strategic relationships & gaining acceptance to open thinking.

The goal of this discussion is to help the business reader realize that change is everywhere, within ourselves and our world. We all grow old, the seasons come and go; the moment we begin to utilize something we change it. We seldom take notice of these smaller, inch-by inch changes and yet they can be big impacts in our lives. The same is true with the business world. There is a need to realize that even the most successful business, product or team, over time, is impacted by changes, and they need to evolve and begin to accept change everyday. Otherwise life and business will pass them by. 

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” — Nelson Mandela