Topic of the Week This Could Be the Start of Something Big - Creating Breakthroughs at Work:
• DO run experiments.
• DO take risks.
• DO break the rules.
• DON'T know it all.
Most organizations are good at incremental change, a tweak here or a minor modification there. Nothing too radical. Which reminds me of a sculpture of a New Zealand government minister which sold for over $2,000 on an online auction web site. The bust of the Environment Minister was unique, because it was sculpted from cow manure. Sam Mahon sculpted the piece as a protest against the government's position on pollution from farms.
Mr. Mahon literally turned manure into money, and generated a lot of press for his cause. I can't guarantee that will happen for you and your company, but I can give you three Do's and one Don't to lay the groundwork for your company to create a breakthrough. For more, check out "The Practice of Adaptive Leadership" by Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky (Harvard, 2009).
DO run experiments. Most people see a great marketing campaign and think of the creative geniuses that came up with the great idea. What they fail to see, are the various experiments that didn't make it to the marketplace. No one bats 1,000. But the most successful companies are constantly running experiments to try new ideas, new products and new services. What ideas can you put to a test with your own little experiment at work? Is there a client, a market or a department where an idea could be tested on a smaller scale?
DO take risks. Most corporations are risk averse. No, let me try that again. Most corporations are RISK AVERSE!!!!! Don't get me wrong, incremental changes can have an impact, but dramatic changes are what tends to generate revenue, headlines and buzz. The companies that will thrive accept that people who never make mistakes, also never break create breakthroughs. You've got to take chances. Start with all of the assumptions in your industry. Then try turning a few of them on their heads. Remember when the music industry was stuck with people downloading all of their music for free? Well recently the iTunes store sold its 10 billionth song. I understand the industry is still hurting, but Apple at least got people to pay something for their music.
DO break the rules. Recently someone sent me his company "plant" rule. There was a page and a half of policies concerning plants on people's desks. I know the economy is tough, but I'm not sure having staff to write such policies is how we'll dig ourselves out. But I'm not suggesting that you just start breaking rules, it's probably a good idea to be sure your boss is on the same page with you.
DON'T know it all. There are lots of answers outside of your company. Answers coming from customers, vendors, competitors, just to name a few sources. Yet, so few companies hear these sources because they believe that everything they need to know resides in their own company hallways.
Follow these tips and you just might be surprised what new opportunities you can sculpt where you work.
About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Also check out his newly revised best-seller "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected].
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