September 15, 2019

H Stands for How To…

As 2010 approaches, many leaders are asking new questions.  Faced with a slumped economy, less manpower and growing concerns about what the next year will hold, the questions are becoming more complex and more fear-filled.

So, today, I want to just share with you 3 very simple “How To’s” to consider for 2010…just take a step back and consider a few of the basics.

lightbulb1.  HOW TO INNOVATE: Innovation is such a big buzzword today, so when something is a big buzzword, it means that it is important to the business landscape.  Many people believe that people are just born as innovators.  This may be somewhat true, but real innovation takes place through learning.  If I have any advice on this topic it would be this:

  1. Get out there and talk to the 3 most innovative companies you know to find out how they come up with bright ideas that actually make it to the market and thrive in the marketplace.
  2. Study and read everything you can about an innovator you admire (Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs would be two I would start with).
  3. Talk to at least 12 people from different industries about one idea you are rolling around in your head (talk to an artist, scientist, physician, dancer, gardener, plumber, attorney , financial planner, nanny, stay at home mom…innovation does not happen in a vacuum, and it is critical to get out there and talk to a variety of people about your ideas to get your finger on the pulse of what is really bugging people/keeping them awake at night not having drain cleaning services columbus oh to clean their pipes).
  4. Take a trip to a place like the Sharper Image or even Best Buy to test out the most current technology in their stores.  Ask yourself “Why this?”  and “Why didn’t they do this?”
  5. Spend time in an area/field that you know nothing about. Take up a new hobby like fishing, quilting, kickboxing, painting…anything that is new…new hobbies stimulate thinking and creativity.

Business confrontation.2. HOW TO PICK YOUR BATTLES. Many people just don’t like conflict, and for some reason, they think that debate causes problems.  Yet the leaders who really know how to use debate to their advantage are some of the most innovative, successful leaders in our world.  The key is this…knowing what to fight for.

I would love to just tell you what is in this article, but rather than spell out the details, I would like to encourage everyone reading this post to buy a copy of the article How to Pick a Good Fight by HBR.   I will just give you two suggestions from the article.

1.  If the idea will save your company 15% or more of your resources over one year, the battle is worth fighting.

2.  If the idea will grow your sales or acquire new customers faster than the market, the battle is worth fighting.

Believe me…this article is worth purchasing for anyone!  The article includes another 20 ideas and an assessment for your company.

rookie3.  HOW TO GET YOUR ROOKIES TO LEAD. Your new employees are shining stars…fresh out of college, ready to set the world on fire, and what do most leaders do?  They throw a big bucket of water on the fire and say “Hey…new kid…here’s how we do things around here!”  Oh…that’s a smart idea (NOT!)  It is time for everyone to understand that leadership development for your new employees is what will differentiate your company from your competitors in 2010.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Find out what truly motivates your rookies. This is going to be different for each person (time off with family, basketball tickets, public acknowledgement, and so forth).  Your job as a leader is to find out what really motivates your rookies and begin using that to get them on board.
  2. Begin implementing a state of the art leadership development program for your rookies. Many companies shy away from this, because they feel something like this “Why waste my development dollars on someone who is going to leave me in two years?”  The answer:  Because you want your rookies to be the best they can be and to sing your praises as they dance out the door.  Your goal as a leader should be to train your rookies so well that other companies do try to recruit them away…but…if you are smart and you develop a great training and coaching program for them, they will think twice before leaving you.  And…if they do, there is a good chance that once they experience the greener pastures they thought they wanted, they will come back to you in a few years.
  3. Open yourself up to learning AND to actually using the technology that your rookies are using to communicate (including text, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and so forth).  In order to get your rookies to lead others, you have to be willing to communicate with them using the tools they are comfortable with and then pull them into the higher level leadership communication skills (face to face discussions, public presentations and face to face negotiations).
  4. Drop the talk about paying dues and climbing the corporate ladder…is a top turn-off for this rising generation.
  5. Ask your rookies for their ideas…invite them into the private meeting room to get their ideas on the table…this will be music to their ears and will inspire them to lead others in a way that is open and curious.

So, as 2010 rolls around, start looking closely at what you can do for the people of your organization…there is no better time than the present to start developing stronger relationships, better ways of communicating and of course…rock solid approaches to leadership and business development.

I Stands for Innovation: 6 Skills Today’s Leaders Need to Turn Ideas into New Products and Services

INNOVATION! You see the word everywhere today, in every business journal and even on billboards.  Everyone is talking innovation these days, because we are all competing to find the next big idea…a way to make our next million!

But what does it take to truly be innovative?  See, innovation to me is a bit different than creativity.  From my perspective, creativity is thinking of new ideas.  The majority of people say that they have creative ideas all day long, but they never do anything with them…they don’t speak about them, write about them or do anything to try to get them into the marketplace.

Innovation is a bit different…it is a process which may or may not start with creative thinking.  From my observations, innovation is much more related to a creative thinker being out in the world, noticing something odd or something new and asking the question “WHY?” and then “HOW?” She then goes and answers the question “WHY?” by coming up with the HOW and then creating something brand new that never existed.  So, the creativity is sparked most often by a question or an observation in life.

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos

I have never met Amazon Founder, Jeff Bezos (who changed my life!  I am an Amazon junkie!) , but the stories and interviews I have read and heard go something like this.

Bezos is of course one of these computer geniuses who in the early 1990’s noticed that internet usage was increasing by 2300 percent a year.  At this time, the internet was not really being used for commerce (a small bit but not to a great degree)  but he knew it was coming, so he immediately began looking at what type of offering he could make on the internet that would change the way we all do business.

So, Bezos went about reviewing the top 20 mail order businesses and began asking himself several questions such as “What type of business could be conducted more efficiently over the Internet than by traditional mail order Because there were no comprehensive mail order catalogs for books (they would be gigantic), he believed that the internet would be a perfect vehicle to set up an online bookstore.

Bezos began attending book conferences, publishing events and becoming masterful on how to best sell books.  This venture selling books online started in his garage (how many times have we heard this scenario about innovation?  Starting in a garage or a bathroom?), and here we are today…buying everything under the sun on Amazon.  I had to do a little time capsule display a few months ago, and I ordered a bottle of Tang on Amazon, have recently purchased a clock, furniture, and bedding on the Amazon and just saw where I can even buy a lawn mower…they have everything imaginable.

I could probably go on and on about other great innovators like Steve Jobs, whose big motive is to “Put a ding in the universe” or Bill Gates, whose vision was to see every home in the world with a computer running windows (that was going to be possible until Steve Jobs came along and said…I think we can do this better and in a way that is really hot/cool”).  But, the bottom line is that these innovators use certain skills including:

1. Breaking up the status quo. Innovators don’t accept that what is available is the best option.  They take ideas that are already in existence and make them better.

2. Questioning everything.  Innovators invest a great deal of time each day asking questions…asking “Why?” and “How?” and “What’s next?”  By sitting down and writing out some questions that are the unthinkable each day, you can exercise your innovative thinking.

3. Brainstorming. Most innovators are not sitting in their offices alone thinking up ideas.  They get out and talk to people and get ideas.  My husband, Mike and I are building a home right now, and we have a great crew helping us out.  We have hit about 100 snags, and we then go to our crew and say “Okay…we have this issue, let’s talk options…what are all of the possible solutions.”  And, as soon as the best one comes to the surface, we act…but trust me…we are relying on the bright ideas of others to make this home beautiful and truly efficient and effective.

4. Nosy-ness. Most innovators are nosy.  They get into doors and look around.  They open drawers and look at files and scope out retail shops and look around.  They take in everything, and pull it all back in and say…”Hmmm…something is missing, and it is this.”

Duct Tape Has Over 500 Uses. I Believe I Have Seen Jack Bauer Use This Approach On "24"

5. Problem Oriented Passion. The majority of people I have met who are truly innovators started their big idea because they quite frankly got ticked off about something not working in life.  The positive passion and inspiration are great, but the majority of time, something is missing in life or someone needs something to make life easier, and they go out and find a way to make it happen.  Duct Tape was invented to keep moisture out of the ammunition cases (see…a problem was here…moisture was getting into ammunition cases). Because it was waterproof, people referred to the tape as “Duck Tape.”  Of course, now, we use Duct Tape for everything…I saw a show one night on all of the uses for Duct Tape…including a house that had repaired everything in the house with Duct Tape.   You can see some of the uses for duct tape here.

6. Stick-To-Itiveness. I am not 100% sure of the accuracy of this quote, but quote masters say that Thomas  Edison said “I have not failed 1,000 times.  I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”  Whether or not this is an accurate quote, I have studied Edison enough to know that he was a master of sticking to a project and continuously experimenting so that he could get it right.  He did indeed finally discover the magical formula for the light bulb, yet so often, we stop our innovative processes after failing one single time.  If you are going to lead the edge in your industry, you have to be willing to stick to it until you reach your new idea comes to life.

If you are a leader or business owner who is struggling with innovation, I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you to see how I can be of assistance.  Just send an e-mail to bea@beafields.com, and we will set up a time to speak.