Culture & Structure

What Could Innovation Do for Your Company?

As human beings, there’s one set of innovations we’re all waiting for: effective vaccines for Covid-19 and ways to distribute them as quickly as possible.

There’s a second set many of us are thinking about: a system that will enable us to handle the next pandemic a lot better than the one we’re in now. Let’s not be unprepared again!

There’s a third group that the CEOs with whom I work are now talking about: product and process innovations that enable their companies to serve customers better. Helping companies unleash their workers’ creativity and forge innovations has been a special area of interest for me for dozens of years and therefore a subject we discuss in group meetings and executive coaching sessions.

As we have these conversations, I am reminded of a major misconception about innovations: the myth of the lone genius who comes up with an innovation. Instead, the experts remind us that innovations are “cobbled together” by contributions from a number of sources. Henry Ford’s assembly line idea was the product of observations made while watching the meat “disassembly” plants by meat packers, and the replaceable parts concept used in the sewing machine.

In How Breakthroughs Happen: the Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate, Andrew Hargadon focuses on this issue by introducing the concept of the “technology broker” – outsiders who specialize in trying to see how a new idea could be commercialized effectively.  We all know stories about companies where people created innovations that never saw the light-of-day as commercial products and/or services. For instance, Xerox’s PARC’s (Palo Alto Research Center) scientists created the GUI (graphic user interface), the mouse, and other technologies; but did nothing with them. It took an outsider – Steve Jobs to see the commercial applications – and then used them to create Apple Computer. Similarly, Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist, discovered an adhesive that stuck lightly and saw no use for it.  Art Fry found a use for it and engaged others (secretaries) to experiment with it – and created 3M’s Post-it Notes. He was the critical “technology broker”.

Who is your technology broker?   If you don’t already have a group of objective, smart business leaders who look at your ideas and, using  their fresh perspectives, give you insights on how it can be adapted  successfully, now is the time to do so

One of unheralded benefits of belonging to Vistage Worldwide is that you have a set of smart, committed leaders who are constantly coming up with new ideas and approaches, sharing them, and getting constructive, objective feedback from members of their local Peer Advisory group and/or the “special interest” networks to which the 23,000 global members belong.
Why not find out for yourself? Vistage offers appropriate leaders an opportunity to experience Vistage meetings virtually. Just contact me for details.  Email Jerry.Cahn@VistageChair.com or call 646-290-7664.

9 Ways to Influence

Leadership involves getting other people to do things you want them to do. In the world of offices, if both of you are in the same space, you can use your physical presence – including body language, voice tonality, etc. to influence people. When you’re not able to use your physical presence – which is increasingly going to happen as we become a distributed workforce, but have a position of authority, you can leverage the powers inherent in the position. If you lack authority you can use other forms of power – such as “expert” power to influence people. 

Today, more than ever, people work with others as team members lacking the physical presence, and often being peers without authority. So, using other forms of influence become increasingly important to people who want to achieve process or outcome goals.  In Becoming a Person of Influence John Maxwell and Jim Dornan identified nine qualities of influence.  The spell out Influence!

  • Integrity – Builds relationships based on trust
  • Nurturing – Cares about people as individuals
  • Faith — Believes in people
  • Listening  – Values what others have to say
  • Understanding – Sees things from others’ point of view
  • Enlarging – Helps others become bigger
  • Navigating – Assists others through difficulties
  • Connecting – Initiates positive relationships
  • Empowering – gives them the power to lead.

Which are your strengths? Which can be strengthened?  Especially in this Covid-19 era, , now is the time to work on these qualities in order to achieve your team’s process and outcome goals.

Build a Sustainable Business Strategy, Today

The economic impact of the pandemic is forcing many companies to change the existing business model and identify one that will enable them to succeed in the (slow) recovery period. Tweaking the old model may not be enough; a new model that takes into account the changes in buying patterns, technology, financial capital and talent availability, may be needed. Marc Emmer, a business strategy/execution expert who shares his expertise with Vistage’s 23,000 members, recently identified a 10 step framework that you may want to use to help you build a strategy you can execute flawlessly now and in the future.

  1. Develop a true vision that will work in the future
  2. Define your competitive advantage in the changing future
  3. Define who are your new target markets, customers, employees,  partners, etc.
  4. Identify what it will take for systematic growth – technology, people, products, services, etc/
  5. Be data-driven when making ongoing decisions; collect the data to do so!
  6. Think long-term for sustainability. 
  7. But expect the need to make changes in this increasingly VUCA world
  8. Keep the door open to new perspectives and ideas
  9. Come prepared; in a virtual world, people have shorter attention spans, so do the homework
  10. Measure your results and make adaptations and corrections to execute flawlessly

As you develop strategies, measure them and execute them, what new patterns do you note that change the processes?   Share them with us.

Forge Strong Virtual Teams

As we know from our own experiences, forging strong teams – that collaborate and trust each other enough to invest their individual energies to produce a collective perspective – is difficult under traditional conditions where people share offices. It’s likely more difficult when people aren’t working in the same spaces. However, by being aware of the challenges we can strengthen the process. 

In a recent Korn Ferry blog What Really Makes Teams Click Today, Gary Burniston shares a framework  based on an analysis of 150,000 leaders, of what it takes to identify what it takes to lead dynamic virtual team environment  The ADAPT approach focuses on the need to:

Anticipate tomorrow

Drive to elevate energy and others

Accelerate with agility

Partner to tap “collective genius:

Trust to create elevated interdependence. 
As you and your people adapt to the evolving distributed workforce model, think through these five attributes to create more effective virtual teams. Then, share with us what challenges you encounter with each, so we can all forge more effective virtual teams, especially when it comes to spurring creativity to develop innovations.

Short-term, Intermediate and Long-term Success

In business and politics, the first 90-100 days is often considered a “honeymoon period” during which the new employee, including a CEO or President, is given a grace period. During the initial stages of the pandemic, almost everybody reported incredible performance by people and companies.

  •  Most employees adapted to working from home quickly; for the majority of people, productivity actually improved compared to normal
  •  Management consultants, like McKinsey, and business and popular media, reported that companies made transition to the lockdown in record time.  Three examples:
    • A hospital went from 200 telemedicine visits in 2019, to 5000 a week, a goal it had estimated would take years.
    • A company running movie theaters when forced to close down decided to retrain 1000 users and ticket sellers to work for an online grocery, and accomplished the goal in only two days.
    • Best Buy, which spent months testing curbside delivery at a handful of stores, rolled it out in every store in two days.

There are many reasons for the short-term success. CEOs with whom we work asked if this was sustainable, and we brought to their attention that it might not for lots of reasons, including one underlying the “Hawthorne Effect”. Years ago, in a study on ways to increase productivity, everything that the researchers did to improve working conditions in a factory had a positive effect on worker productivity. Wondering how it could be so good, they then started removing them; productivity continued to increase, until the removal of extra and then normal lighting made the room so dark it all came to a screeching halt. Conclusion: people who know they are being watched and want to please the observers, will do what they can to impress them. 

In the short term, we’ve watched this happen. Juggling work and family conditions (e.g., support, schooling, etc.) is stressful, but short-term we mobilized to do it. Working conditions at home weren’t ideal (e.g., our “desk” was a table sticking out of a closet), but we adapted to the conditions. However as we start planning for the next set of months, it’ll be a different reality: we are no longer in the “fight-back” mode but in the “creating a new life mode”. We need more comfort, more support from other people, to make it through the next stage. Expect lots of changes in how we manage space, time, multiple business, family and personal goals during the intermediate stage.

Leaders with whom I work are focusing now on the long-term. We’re not going back to the pre-pandemic office situation. Company leaders are trying to figure out how to allow people to adapt to the new distributed workforce model. Spatially, it means working from home, office and pods on whatever basis makes sense for the person, customer, technology, etc. Studies show that the overwhelming majority of people do not want to work in an office full-time in the future, nor do they want to commute and travel for business when alternatives exist. The nature of business, family, personal expectations for life fulfilment are all playing a role in determining the after-the-pandemic world.

More important, we need to focus on long-term job satisfaction, professional growth, creativity and innovation. We need to adapt new models for increased collaboration between members of teams and teams-of-teams in a world of greater self-management and ongoing change. Steve Jobs’ last major accomplishment was leaving Apple with a new California campus designed to spur spontaneous encounters, and encourage collaboration, creativity and innovation. Shaped like a donut, people could bump-into-one-another on the way to common areas, and begin conversations that could generate new ideas, products and services.   Today’s work-from-home, ”Zoom to communicate” world, lacks that opportunity for spontaneous exchange and ideation – keys to innovation.  Long-term success depends on our ability to build structures that will address this issue.

What do you think we can do to ensure long-term success? Share your ideas!

VIRTUAL Presentation Training Workshop

Be the Best Presenter You Can Be
Friday Jan 22nd, 9AM to 1PM

More Info
Win More Bids! Get our e-book:
Present To Win The RFP
.

Need a Speaker for Next Event?

Request Today
Let us know your needs
For Business Owners & CEOs
Be an Even Better Leader
Outperform Your Competitors!
Learn why 21,000 leaders
belong to Vistage Worldwide

Does Your Website Attract
New Businesses?

In any industry, your site
can sparkle - and sell!

Request Evaluation
Get 15-min review of your website from Market Smith, leave with game-changing insights.

Company's revenue plateaued?


Maybe it's time to Re-brand!

Request DBC's Rebrand Plan

Market Your Company More Effectively!

Request free Book
'The Growth Gears'

Request today!
from Chief Outsiders

"Better Way" Webinars
View Many of Our Past Webinars

Learn, Enjoy and Prosper
youtube.com

Watch Some Executive Breakfast Club Presentations

Watch Video
executivebreakfastclub.com
HR. com recognized the Presentation Excellence Group
for leader excellence in the Leadership Partners & Providers category.

Calendar

November 2020
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30