Archive for category Innovation & Creativity

The Stuck State Business

Stuck state business, a business where they are “stuck in the same state” this allows for little if any growth and comes from the idea called Homeo Stasis – Where things are held as they are – “Don’t make waves things are okay as they are” The challenge with this is that other factors change while your business is standing still and before long challenges occur and your business can face various threats to it’s survival.

Based in biology terminology, this ‘stasis’ relates to organisms and the way the ‘whole’ can be maintained, the right amount of light, nutrients, etc to ensure the organism can survive. The organism dies when things get too far out of balance and things go astray. With limited ability to improvise – adapt – or overcome a simple organism has little chance of survival.

In business the ‘organism’ becomes more complex, there are more variables, in many cases it is a range of little ‘things’ which can make or break it’s ability to thrive let alone survive.

Lets look at a few variables

  • Staff – motivated – skilled – communicating well?
  • Systems – complex – simple – effective?
  • Strategies – Marketing – Management – Operations – in place or not?
  • Values – minimal – developing – fully developed – where are things at?
  • Resources – tools – materials – workspaces – finances – training – well utilised?

Now you can see your business as a complex organism and one where the balance of all the factors to make it successful, have to be juggled carefully to keep things in harmony. In this case harmony can equal a static situation which does not allow for growth.

For the sake of your business, figuring out what is keeping the status quo where it’s at could be important in the logical approach to evaluating the situation. OR you could take a ‘quantum leap’ and step over that, avoid the analysis and look at a range of things that can be done that might not already be done, to head things in a healthier direction. A bit like doing a range of exercises to build core strength in a body when you thought you could get away with just one or two exercises, often the result is better in the long run.

What you can do

  • Communication – Discuss – projects – people – resources – aim to connect – synergise – empower – inspire – what works – what doesn’t – distil lessons learnt & distribute – reduce barriers – reduce hassles
  • Create a learning cycle – Assess a project before it starts – assess it inn progress – evaluate the aftermath, what went well, what didn’t and what can you learn from it
  • Aim for excellence – “If it could be done better do it!” look at all aspects to what makes things tick- Systems – strategies – skills – structure – service – quality (to name a few)
  • Provide a sense of belonging – achievement – contribution
  • Goal set – share the info – share the wins – explore the challenges and shortcomings.
  • Love your people – they make the hard resources move – they do the ‘stuff’ that pays the bills and builds the profits if  you love them they will love the customers
  • Love  your customers – connect – discuss – focus – ask – explore them – know them – let them know you and your team

All of these things can keep your team nimble and exploring a wider range of actions and thinking processes than their usual comfort zone allows. All of this should allow your business to explore the idea of thriving, not just standing still in a warm spot where things are comfortable but pushing at least some of the boundaries to make things work better.

What Do You Do It For?

You’re in business, why, you run events, why, your start new projects, why…

In business you can have a range of reasons as to why you do things… To make a profit and get rich (yeah right…) to be my own boss, to feed my ego, to provide  service and products to a niche market.

Lets go deeper. In business you might decide to do some things to make your business stand out from the crowd. Perhaps it’s a promotional event of some kind, you figure you can spend some $$ invite people over to your business and at some stage they will buy. Perhaps you figured the media will come and you will get wider kudos and therefore more publicity from the event.

For me there is some form of internal ‘buzz’ I get out of doing things, projects (in my case arty projects) to the point where I will produce a range of Artworks with an aim of exploring a theme of some kind with a bigger picture of exhibiting them (rarely happens) so I pursue a dream, and I get a ‘buzz’ from it. I then go onto the next project hoping things might go further… I continue to produce.

What about you, what’s your reason for doing what you do?

  • Ego -“I’m important look at me”. (What, you only lasted six months, but you were important and hey you gave it a go).
  • Profit – “I’m in business and I can make a greater return than any investment I know of” (You hope.)
  • You’re the boss – You get staff, they do the work, you sit back and watch (nice idea, doesn’t always work that way).
  • You have a great idea you think the world will want to buy – Maybe it is the best idea since ‘sliced bread’ but what if it’s not… done any research yet?
  • I want more promotional coverage for the business – You run an event to get people in, hopefully people who have not used your business before but hopefully will in the future. Perhaps the local radio station team up with you and run a sausage sizzle, it costs you a heap of $$ and you hope for the best. Was the effort really worth it? Note the key word here is ‘hope’
Perhaps I should apologise for my cynical ‘quips’ after each pointer here, but I see too much failure in business to push a positive line at times.
Let me go another step to see if I can redress the imbalance.
  • Ego – You have one and hopefully you can use it to give you a boost when the chips are down, see through the crap when people say it won’t work. Perhaps it will give you the confidence to present ideas to financiers, interested parties etc.
  • Profit – Know that business is like a bucket with a hole in it, people pour in water (in the form of $$) the hole represents the $$ going out (expenses, purchases etc) your aim is to keep the water line above the hole, this is called profit. Knowing how to do that and how much it will be should be very important. Note the more profit you make the more you can assist others in  your community (family, friends, charities etc.)
  • You’re the boss – Will you be a dictator or a great person to work for that your staff and customers will follow you to the ends of the earth? be the latter, study hard on this point and make sure it happens.
  • Your great idea – Test it, ask questions about it, research it “Nothing like it in the world!” Go deeper on your research! Then figure out what you can do to better, what your competition is doing.
  • You want more promotional coverage for the the business – If you run an event, or some promotional ‘thingy’ what do you want to really have happen… more names on your database, more people to walk in your door, more sales there and then. The emotion of running an event however can take away from the real reason you want to do it, before long the real ideas fades and the good vibe of the event takes over.
Next time ask yourself why do I really want to do this, spell it out and put the reasons why on a banner printed out from your computer, now look at it every day, let it drive you, guide you motivate you. Then think about the team you have, what o “they do it for”? Now there’s a good question.

The Open Plan Office Failure

Open plan offices offer a lot if your team communicates openly with each other share conversations with customers and offering information or advice between a small group of staff. The challenge comes when you expect the team to work without distractions (planning – on the phone with customers etc.)

Ok so what was the big deal with going for open plan in the first place? Cost? Having the chance to break down barriers? More open communication? Other…

Let’s go the other way, what’s the deal with a ‘closed’ office? Greater privacy – Easier to concentrate – Cut down on noise – More wall space (for planning charts and so on…) – Your computer can be oriented so only you see what’s on the screen (ok not the best reason but surely quiet important!)

Perhaps the best way is to go halfway (is that possible?) creating spaces which offer users the ability to have privacy, a sense of security, still have some degree of communication openness, not have the cost of a full office, and provide the user with that sense of ownership or personalisation without having everyone look at your personal items etc

Maybe we could go for the cocoon, or pod, I seem to recollect back in the 70’s the Illustrator Roger Dean (Did lots of futuristic and fantasy album covers) created a whole bunch of futuristic spacey spaces and one of them included a ‘Learning Pod’ and individual cocoon shaped like a giant seed pod. Is that a way to go…

I believe the answer probably lies in clearly looking at what the business, your business, is all about and exploring the ideal way to make what needs to happen, happen, in the most effective way possible.

If your team really work as a team, then maybe a team space is required with separate areas to compile info for the team.

If your team are working directly with customers, then perhaps they just need a space where they can do that with minimal fuss.

If your team are a bunch of slackers and serve no real purpose to your amazingly big conglomerate then perhaps a bunch of hotel rooms with Wi Fi connectivity might be the go…

I guess what I am really saying is to ‘go deep’ and look at the specific reasons your team need the space they need and how they will interact (or not). I guess I am also thinking make the space adaptable so things can be altered when the need arises.

Oh and let’s not forget the concept of status, where the ‘boss’ gets the ‘closed office and privacy’ and the others get ‘open space and prying eyes’ surely we can think beyond that and come up with spaces which cause people to believe they are highly valued contributors without any loss of status.

Perhaps open plan failure is just a starting point to creating office space success.

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2012 Business, thriven or failing

There’s plenty of talk out on the street that people are saving and not buying, therefore business may well take a battering.

There’s lots of other talk too, less Entrepreneurs entering the market place with big ideas. Then there’s people losing jobs left right and centre as businesses close up and walk away, or go offshore to chase cheaper ways to manufacture.

With all this I can sense bitterness in the air, people in business cursing those that don’t buy, (or by online…) cursing the idea of having to set up a business in a down economy, cursing the thought of having to think creatively to overcome challenges and create anew. The list goes on.

Things change, get used to that.

It’s up to you what you end up doing about it, in business there are options, generally the more cash you have the more options you have.

But wait the “bootstrap-ocracy” will tell us you don’t need money, you need ideas, followed by a great pitch to the right people and before you know it a business has emerged from nothing.

I heard a conversation the other day that suggested all business ideas are bootstrapped, even if you put a few Million into the start up phase you then have to pay that back at some stage so  you are possibly worse off than if you started with zero $$ it just seems easier.

What will make a business thrive through 2012 and on into the future. Lots of things, the ability to handle change, be creative with their ideas and explore ways to make those ideas become reality so the zero start up can become a heroic organism which can stride forward with confidence. In a word nimble.

Go on get nimble, get creative and make hay before the weather changes and the hay goes sour. The wider community is waiting for the right people to do the right things and keep things moving. “Tag… you’re it!”

Innovation how does it work?

Some recent findings on innovation by Dr Ralph Kerle raised a few questions about the state of innovation in business. Let’s take a look at what he found after running a workshop with world leading organisations His workshop was titled Understanding the Discipline of Innovation in Organizations

Four interesting findings about innovation emerged from his workshop.

  1. Most large organizations have or have had innovation processes in the form of idea programmes in place. They work to varying degrees, none appear highly successful.
  2. Most organizational innovation produces isolated successes, yet does not sustain organizationally over long periods. I used a case study with a 6 year life cycle and that represented a lengthy period according to the participants.
  3. None of the innovation programmes discussed had benchmarking or on-going measurement associated with them enabling decision makers to value organizational innovation. Once the innovation had been implemented, it was regarded simply as a part of the business regardless of its impact. As a result, it appears decision makers in organizations are not able to meaningfully assess over time the value of innovation programmes or processes.
  4. Whilst innovation programmes might be considered part of an organization’s core values. if they don’t have senior leadership driving them in a coherent and disciplined manner, they have little chance of being considered truly strategic and are likely to die if there is a change in leadership.

Dr.Ralph Kerle

 

Let’s start with what innovation is, it’s either a quantum leap or incremental process, either way it’s about finding ways forward to produce an organisation which can function more effectively.

The big thing, it’s often about using creative thinking processes to spark the change, however most business processes follow logic and are not often linked to creativity even though they look to innovation for a “way forward”.

There’s the challenge, to take a logical organism (business) and marry it with creative thinking (ideas and processes which may have only a few logical processes as part of them). Especially if there are few examples of creativity making big inroads into business development. (Some would argue market leaders like apple computers fly against this).

 

Some thoughts

  • Use innovation
  • Value innovation
  • Push to innovate
  • Explore it!
  • The board should be creative junkies
  • The board should be implementing it at every level
  • The team don’t get it because they are following the lead (fail on creativity guys)
  • Forget JUST innovation go for creativity and see what happens (does it lead to innovation, usually yes).
  • Measurement, take a look at the bottom line, are there more dollars, is there greater retention of staff (therefore some reduced costs), are staff happier? You get the idea make a big list and see if the creative invasion has made a difference
  • Ask your team to brainstorm the difference innovation and creative approaches might make, then measure that
  • Does your organisation have a culture which can handle creative approaches, if not why not and how might you alter that?
  • How does the main team get to value creativity and innovation?
  • Do your team say “Oh no another silly thingy we have to deal with from ‘upstairs’” or do they look on with interest.
  • Plan do check act – try – do check act plan…
  • Improvise adapt overcome – try – adapt overcome improvise…
  • Replace “They won’t go for that” with “Go for that it might just make a BIG difference”
  • Replace “do it now” thinking with “do it yesterday?”
  • Think save the world with our actions because we can, via innovation
  • Think… explore… create… and or ANY combination of those
  • Ask, is the ball rolling effectively or are there any obstacles in it’s way? Now innovate that for results. BIG results
  • Pose creative questions at all levels, all the time
  • Ask for creative responses to challenges (you shouldn’t have to after a while)
  • Ask, what creative process do I not know about that we can use now…
  • Hire for creativity first skills, passion and abilities second…
  • Hire based strongly on “What creative or innovative thing propelled you in your last role?” (even if they are applying for a menial role)

Enough, either see the road blocks or create the road ahead, make it a golden one with all the trimmings thanks.

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Power $$ profit, where will it go…

In a recent news article the NSW government has made a tidy $1.23bn profit from the part privitisation of their power resources in that state. Well done, let me be the first to congratulate them.

I have a question however, what will they do with it?

Suggestion, for a whole bunch of people who can’t afford to buy the solar panels on their roofs use the $$ to give low income earners a way to reduce their utility costs, this will then mean less coal gets dug up as well. Makes sense to me. However I won’t be holding my breathe waiting for things to happen. 🙂

In your business are there similar opportunities? Are you missing out because of lack of thinking, risk taking etc… look closer you might find some powerful opportunities right under your noses.

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Your business culture needs work

When you want a new staff member to ‘fit in’ you generally go for a good culture fit when you interview them. Usually this means the recruits actions and thoughts fit well with the rest of the team and the way they do things, their patterns of behaviour. It makes sense to do that, however what if you want things to change in your organisation… perhaps more growth, explore new markets, push some boundaries. Then things might be different.

 

Consider the role of a senior member of staff, perhaps a person in a strategic planning or Human Resource Development role. Your aim may well be to push some boundaries and open the playing field up to new ideas and options. In that case you may want a person with a different approach or cultural fit to the rest. This then raises questions about the type of cultural differences and skill sets you might want to have with this type of recruit.

 

How will you decide what culture and skill sets you require? That depends on the role and how much of a ‘shift’ you want to create in the system. Clearly if you go for a person who is totally different in their interests, values and beliefs to the rest of the team, you may end up with a situation where the gap between your current culture and your ‘imposed’ one is too great to sustain for any length of time. I liken it to a bridge trying to span a distance which is too great for the structure to hold for long, eventually it fails.

 

Your new cultural direction should consider the following points.

  • The change should be different enough from the existing situation but still maintain structural integrity.
  • Creative approaches or not? – if the existing culture requires stimulus to get it moving then a more creative skill set can do just that.
  • If the growth pattern of the enterprise is stagnant then a more profit driven or sales oriented person can add value.
  • Managing the change might need extra effort on the part of the HR dept, supervisors and team leaders to oversee the new direction.
  • Is this culture re-shuffle a part of an ongoing strategic plan? – If so it will probably fit with a core value of innovation.  With that underpinning the new approach, the team should see the benefits this will bring for the longer term.
  • Although a different cultural fit might be the main aim it doesn’t mean the core organisational values need to be ignored, in fact they are probably going to be strengthened by this new approach as terms such as respect – innovation and service get a bigger airing and may be explored at a deeper level.

Like anything changes to a business need to take into consideration various factors before being implemented but the above cultural development points might be a good starting point to consider.

 

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