Archive for the ‘Independence’ Category

You might be a leader if…

If you have to tell people what to do, you didn’t teach them to think for themselves.

If you know one of your team members has something to say but they don’t say it, it’s because you didn’t create an environment where they feel safe.

If your new hire doesn’t lead an important part of a project within the first week, you did them a disservice.

If the team learns the same thing three times, you should have stepped in two times ago.

If you don’t demand that your team uses their discretion, they won’t.

If the project’s definition of success doesn’t correlate with business success, you should have asked for a better definition of success before the project started.

If someone on your team tells you you’re full of sh*t, thank them for their truthfulness.

If your team asks for permission, change how you lead them.

If you can’t imagine that one of your new hires will be able to do your job in five years, you hired the wrong people.

If your team doesn’t disagree with you, it’s because you haven’t led from your authentic self.

If your team doesn’t believe in themselves, neither do you.

If your team disobeys your direct order, thank them for disobeying and apologize for giving them an order.

If you ask a new hire to lead an important part of a project and you don’t meet with them daily to help them, you did them a disservice.

If one of your team members moves to another team and their new leader calls them “unmanageable”, congratulations.

If your team knows what you’ll say before they ask you, you’ve led them from your authentic self.

If you haven’t chastised your team members for their lack of disagreement with you, you should.

If you don’t tell people they did a good job, they won’t.

Image credit — Hamed Saber

What’s your innovation intention?

behind the maskIf you want to run a brainstorming session to generate a long list of ideas, I’m out. Brainstorming takes the edge off, rounds off the interesting corners and rubs off any texture. If you want me to go away for a while and come back with an idea that can dismantle our business model, I’m in.

If you can use words to explain it, don’t bother – anything worth its salt can’t be explained with PowerPoint. If you need to make a prototype so others can understand, you’ve got my attention.

If you have to ask my permission before you test out an idea that could really make a difference, I don’t want you on my team. If you show me a pile of rubble that was your experiment and explain how, if it actually worked, it could change the game, I’ll run air cover, break the rules, and jump in front of the bullets so you can run your next experiments, whatever they are.

If you load me up to with so many projects I can’t do several I want, you’ll get fewer of yours. If you give me some discretion and a little slack to use it, you’ll get magic.

If, before the first iteration is even drawn up, you ask me how much it will cost, I will tell you what you want to hear. If, after it’s running in the lab and we agree you’ll launch it if I build it, I won’t stop working until it meets your cost target.

If there’s total agreement it’s a great idea, it’s not a great idea, and I’m out. If the idea is squashed because it threatens our largest, most profitable business, I’m in going to make it happen before our competitors do.

If twice you tell me no, yet don’t give me a good reason, I’ll try twice as hard to make a functional prototype and show your boss.

To do innovation, real no-kidding innovation, requires a different mindset both to do the in-the-trenches work and to lead it. Innovation isn’t about following the process and fitting in, it’s about following your instincts and letting it hang out. It’s about connecting the un-connectable using the most divergent thinking.  And contrary to belief, it’s not in-the-head work, it’s a full body adventure.

Innovation isn’t about the mainstream, it’s about the fringes. And it’s the same for the people that do the work.  But to be clear, it’s not what it may look like at the surface. It’s not divergence for divergence’s sake and it’s not wasting time by investigating the unjustified and the unreasonable. It’s about unique people generating value in unique ways. And at the core it’s all guided by their deep intention to build a resilient, lasting business.

image credit: Chris Martin.

If it’s not different, it’s not innovation.

Upside-down houseCreative products are novel and useful; Innovative products are novel, useful, and successful. Beforehand, it’s impossible to know if something will be successful, but if it’s useful there’s a chance it could be; beforehand, it’s subjective whether something will be useful, but if it’s novel there’s a chance; but no one is sure what novel means, so replace it with “different” and you’re onto something. It’s clear if something is different, and if it’s different, there’s a chance it could be creative and innovative. Said another way,

if something isn’t different it cannot be creative, nor can it be innovative.

If you can generate more things that are different, you’ve increased your chances of creativity and innovation. And if you generate more ideas that are different, you’ll create more things that are different. Go on a quest to create more ideas that are different and you’ll have more creativity and innovation.

Ideas that are different come from the firing of different neural pathways. And to get different pathways to fire, you’ve got to first recognize when the old ones are firing. To do this, you’ve got to be aware of your worn pathways and be aware you’re reusing the overused. A different environment is needed – an environment that governs speed. If you have a culture of speed and productivity, this will be different.  It doesn’t matter what the different environment is, it matters what it isn’t.

Different ideas result from the collision of old ideas seen from a new perspective. Put different people together who have different old ideas and different perspectives and different ideas will grow from the collisions. There’s no recipe for the exact distribution of people, but if you don’t put them together now, then those are them.

And to break new neural pathways, the environment in which ideas should be different. Again, there’s no prescription for the type of space or the furniture, just that it’s different. If the engine that creates the old ideas lives in an ordered space, make the different one disordered; if there’s carpet all around, lay down some linoleum; if there’s no art on the corporate walls, hang some; if the furniture matches across the teams, make it a clustered-jumble of mismatched pieces. The general approach: whatever it looks like and feels like where the same ideas are regurgitated day-in-day-out, do the opposite.

And to attract different colliders and their ideas, provide something different in the different space. If your regular coffee is terrible, the different coffee should be amazing; where people queue up to use the same tired tools, provide too many seats of the newest and best; where low fat, low calorie, responsible food is doled out in reasonable portions, provide free (and unlimited) access to irresponsible junk food.

Creativity and innovation start with different.

Image credit: quinet.

What Do You Believe About Independence?

PeaceIndependence is important; independence is powerful; it’s dangerous; it’s threatening. But, above all, independence is about control.

If you believe it’s a zero-sum-game, independence is adverserial – more for you, less for me. It’s give-and-take without the give – I don’t give you control, and you take it anyway.

If you believe there’s no trust, independence is scary. If you take initiative and demonstrate independence, you’re afraid I’ll repond negatively because you took control.

If you believe there’s no mutual respect, independence is spiteful. You give less control than you could and manipulate to take even less; I take more than the situation calls and politic to secure even more.

If you believe there’s a surplus, independence is empowering – more for you, more for me, more for everyone.

If you believe there’s trust, independence is exilerating. When you take initiative I tell the world you deserve all that control, and more.

If you believe there’s mutual respect, independence is nurturing. I push you to take more control, and you challenge yourself to do just that.

What do you believe?

Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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