Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Power of Engagement--Part IV---Leading Business Organizations into the Future

If the goal of a business organization is to seize the opportunity to grow through engaging their employees in innovative and creative thinking, then the future lies in developing a learning culture that syncs the personal lives that employees live outside the business organization with the life within the business organization. Bridging the gap needs to be done with caution because the gap is not static but is changing as the experiences that employees have with technology and new ways of approaching things increases outside the business, business organizations need to know how to engage what they are learning in the mission of the business to shorten the gap.


Effective synergy depends upon harmonizing these two areas that employees truly care about. Not to do so, creates the old disconnect between the life lived outside the organization and the life within. A simply analogy to what this means is to think back to days in school when it was often heard from a student that when he or she gets out into the "real world", then life begins. The suggestion here is that life in school was not connected to the way life was lived outside of school. An important point to remember is that with the great advancement of technology and the exponential growth of information across disciplines, greater and great percentages of students are disconnecting from their education because education as an institution is still holding to a model of education that is seriously out of sync with the realities of the 21st century world.


The same can be said of business organizations who fail to lay a foundation and move forward to create the needed synergy for their business organization. Organizational inertia is something that needs to be recognized and overcome.

Business Organizations Growing Into the Future 

 If business organizations desire to make innovative thinking a natural mindset among employees they need to focus on how they can use learning to engage employees to not only interact with each other for a powerful and meaningful purpose but also to interact with decision makers as collaborative teams all using complementary skills for effective complex real world problem solving germane to the future health of the business.

A second step is to look at organizations that are successful in engaging employees in developing innovative thinking mindsets. I know that people are tired of being referred to the ways that Google and Apple operate. These two organizations, despite their level of success, are not without their share of "warts". However, in regards to generating innovative thinking, they are successful. For example consider the principles by which Google operates. 

"It is the principles that may be applied within your own learning culture of your business organization! "


Google's Principles of Innovation
  1. Have a Mission That Matters: When was the last time your business organization asked the question about whether your mission matters. A mission has the potential to touch many lives. Do your employees feel connected to it and empowered to help achieve it? Notice that the means of empowerment of employees is a crucial tipping point.
  2. Think Big But Start Small: Why is it that in many businesses talk about "thinking outside the box" as something that is unusual? Instead, why isn't it inherent in everything they say or do? The fact that they identify that they work in a box does not bode well to becoming innovative. Google suggests that no matter how ambitious the plan is, you have to roll up your sleeves and start somewhere. Sadly, too many ambitious ideas become mired in by the fear of taking a risk and as a result sit on a shelf covered in dust.
  3. Strive For Continual Innovation; Not Instant Perfections: The best way to create a climate of continual innovation is to watch users of your products and services in the wild, get feedback and then act on that feedback. Google has been able to make dramatic progress by working quickly, learning faster and then taking the next steps based on data. You will notice the bolding of "learning faster". It is there because it relates back to the condition of the learning culture of your business organization.
  4. Look For Ideas Everywhere: Coming back to your learning culture, if it is working great ideas will come from employees when they gather together while at lunch or breaks. Enthusiasm is a hard thing to break once it is working with engaged employees.
  5. Share Everything: The great call in the 21st century is for the fostering of collaboration not only within an organization but also within the greater globally connected economic world. One of the barriers to overcome is what I would term as "intellectual protectionism" which takes up back to the silo of knowledge idea which doesn't work in a digital age. By sharing everything within your organization, you encourage the discussion exchange and enable the re-interpreting of ideas which can lead to unexpected, innovative outcomes. We need to get away from the "tell" mindset which is part of the command and control culture. In an innovative and creative culture it is about sharing of talent and ideas.
  6. Use Imagination to Spark Ideas But Fuel With Data: Google creates a foundation for great ideas by setting aside 20 % of employee's time for pursuing and testing out ideas they have. One suggestion that I made earlier is for an organization to create a "technology sandbox" metaphorically speaking, where employees can go to try out new technologies and ideas. This means that part of the role of trainer gets re-written to include mentorship in this technology sandbox.
  7. Be A Platform: There is a great deal of innovative ideas happening around the globe. The power of open innovation and technology follows along the same line as open source software where someone puts forth an app and others have opportunities to improve on it and transform it. It does create a headache for those involved in international patents of intellectual property but even they have to adapt to a changing digital landscape.
  8. Never Fail to Fail: Simply put this means that it is o.k. to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes and correct them fast. Google works on the principle to say "yes" and resist a culture of "no"; accept the inevitability of failure but continue to move forward until you get things right.
  9. Create Shared Value Between Business and Society: This represents the idea that was mentioned at the start of the post which is creating synergy between the world the employees live in and the business world they are a part of. Bridging the gap is the first priority for future health and success.

The last word belongs to Steve Jobs:

"Where does your business organization stand with respect to creating engagement of employees into an innovative and creative mindsets? Are you bridging the gap or is it getting wider for your organization?"

Next----A Call to Arms---Critical Thinking vs. the Post Truth Age--Time to Stand Up and Be Counted!

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