Content created by Ali Uren Founder of Kiikstart.
As people outlive ideas we need to be consistently challenging and changing what we see as being of value remembering ideas are not just the job of leaders.
We need to undertake this thinking organically but also via planned, deliberate opportunities on a regular basis. Not just within the leadership team but across the entire workforce.
Think about it.
Is it any surprise that employees who want to make an impact don’t stay in a business where all the focus and opportunity is given at Management and Leadership levels.
Go back and do a critical self assessment to see how fair and equitable the spread of learning and development opportunities are across your workforce.
1. What type of growth/stretch opportunities are given to certain roles?
2. What story does it tell about how the business values certain people and positions?
From my own industry experience this is likely an exercise only the brave are willing to do but the insights are worth feeling uncomfortable.
Now is the time to change not only how we see ideas but how these are created cross roles.
Ideas matter – they have currency and we need to create new ways to engage employees whatever role they may perform.
We must design diverse teams from a mix of roles and workplace realities that are committed to creating ideas to replace ideas.
And genuinely provide the support and resources to give it a solid go.
Ideas re-arrange things, giving them more value and, ultimately, we have a choice to change the ingredients to get different outcomes.
But thinking differently, reflecting and generating ideas is a learnt skill that needs to be consistently invested in.
Skill and talent must be a focus for organisations and their people, prioritising the ability to re-arrange ideas to find new recipes as we face different challenges and opportunities.
To be prepared for what business and life will send your way you need to create ‘Thinking Time’.
What does this look like from a doing perspective?
Leaders must be bold and make the investment in allowing their teams time to stop, reflect and think regularly. If businesses are allowing teams to work from home a day or two a week it is essential that space for creative and critical thinking is provided to employees during this time. Time to reflect on the lessons from the past week and how this can be used in their roles and wider business to do different moving forward.
This requires foresight and understanding that you will not always see immediate return on thinking time. Consider it an investment into the future both from a financial but equally important people perspective.
Without it you are going backwards.
Here is food for thought:
3M dedicates 15% of all employee time to thinking.
Take time out to reflect on this stat. How well does your business compares and if it is falling short; why is this?
Invest in ideas
Building a portfolio of ongoing ideas that are seen as an investment across all roles and departments is vital to preparing for challenge and change.
This requires a cultural shift from a focus on building leadership capability often at the expense of other roles within the business.
Time is now for businesses to open up the definition of what leadership is today and how they want to build talent and confidence in roles often overlooked.
A focus purely on developing leaders makes poor business sense in a number of ways – let me explain.
1. It places the business in a vulnerable position when the leader leaves and takes all the intel with them.
Spread the risk by having a plan to build entrepreneurial talent across other levels and roles in the business.
2. If not a leader, or identified as an emerging leader, other employees are at risk of feeling neglected and unworthy of developing.
People leave when there is no opportunity to develop and be stretched through new, relevant experiences.
As you consider the process for making thinking and reflecting part of the daily operations in the search of new ideas, take time to consider the following questions:
- How do you measure what is valuable in terms of new ideas as a workforce and business? What is your currency?
- How can you build innovation capital (talent/knowledge) throughout the whole team and organisation? Not just at leadership and management level.
- What are the key roadblocks and risks to building entrepreneurial and creative thinking across all levels, not just senior leadership?
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*A special shout out to Luke Williams, Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at NYU Stern Business School for many of the concepts shared in this blog.