In today’s new normal business environment, innovation is a must for project success! Often, I hear my clients think “I’ve designed this project for success; now I’ll hand it over to the worker bees to execute”; however, this approach is no longer enough. No wonder we have so many unfinished projects and disheartened project team members scattered throughout my clients! Instead, we must create a culture of innovation to ensure project success.
We must find a way for execution and innovation to live hand-in-hand in business, from the executive suites to the shift workers on the production floor. Certainly one possibility is to embrace the lean culture; however, I find there is almost more confusion than clarity among organizations in how to ensure all these “great” concepts yield results. Instead, think of innovation as deeply rooted in your culture. It is not complex or confusing. Innovation must start as culture change.
According to "Inside Steve's Brain" by Leander Kahney, a book about the late Steve Jobs and creative innovation, innovation doesn’t have to be complex: "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."
Ever had this internal conversation: Why meet when you can call? Why call when you can email? Why email when you can text? Why text when you can tweet?
I have this internal conversation daily.
For many of us Millennials (myself included), the art of face-to-face communication seems archaic and outdated since we can shoot off a text or tweet in a few finger flicks or can connect with a team instantly via Google+ Hangouts. However, face-to-face communication is alive and well; if used correctly it can make you stand out in today's crowded talent pool.
Never in history have we had more competing for our attention. Today more than ever we must be intentional about our offline engagements to ensure our ideas stick, our messages connect and our aspirations are understood.
In my studies, different generations have varying communication preferences. Younger generations prefer high-tech while older generations prefer high-touch (aka face-to-face communication). Many of today's hiring managers and decision makers are seasoned leaders who still prefer to connect face-to-face before making decisions. Give yourself the best shot to succeed by harnessing both high-tech and high-touch communication.
A veteran consultant who also happened to have spent multiple tours in Vietnam once gave me a sage piece of advice over a morning java that I've often reflected upon both when I have implemented it correctly or when I have painfully neglected to: "Once your boots hit the ground, the first order of business is to figure out; What's your deal?" In Vietnam, not figuring out the real deal in terms of your situation was extremely hazardrous to your health and those around you, he explained. "Textbooks, training and boot camps are one thing, but you need to acclimate and learn fast once your boots hit the ground in a combat zone and each one is different."
This seasoned consultant went on to explain how he survived and succeeded in his tours in Vietnam was at least in part due to him learning what the deal was- quickly. He similarly had survived the complex, often confusing, and rapid-paced consulting world for over 25 years using many of the same skills. He defined "the deal" to mean what the real situation, tactics, players, and objectives really are and that typically there is a delta between the real deal and the stated deal. Our job is to find out how big a delta that is, manage to it, and proceed on the correct course in the correct manner.