181: Do You Let Your People Go There?

go there

The Hope: Your leaders take whatever risks they need to in order to get the job done. The Reality: Your leaders are risk averse, hoping that their less-than-bold moves trigger some kind of true change. How many times have you heard, in the midst of a crisis, that “everything is on the table” when is reality, there are very few things on the table? Typically, in my experience, that phrase is only used instead of the more blunt “Someone here is going to have to make a sacrifice, and just so you know, it won’t be me”. But I digress. How many times have you heard your senior management express the desire to be innovative, or to be disruptive, to truly change the status quo, but then nothing really changes? Too often, right? Could it be that these calls for action are really just thinly veiled announcements threatening change, so that those uninterested in such things should leave? Or are they legitimate calls for true change? There is one way to find out: determine what the change process will be. Figure out how these changes will be implemented, and watch to see if they are. Suggest a minor, easy to make change, and see if that happens. If it doesn’t, then that may be a sign that your “call for change” has no teeth. This is an epidemic. When a new leader is appointed, they are under pressure to lead – to make changes which are good for the company, and will also be good for the leader – I don’t know of many leaders who don’t look for that win-win. However, while these leaders make these bold proclamations of change, they are really only window-dressing, and no change is actually expected. Even a minor improvement is cause for celebration, thus ensuring the leader will maintain their position and earn their bonus. But will the company become more innovative or disruptive? Doubtful. The leader was not placed there to do that – he or she was placed there to improve the bottom line, and innovation or disruption does not necessarily do that – at least not right away. In fact it might siphon off resources at it works to identify the future of your company. If its not the leaders role to innovate or disrupt, then whose is it? There is a need for internal, professional innovators within your company to be those wild actors, to bounce around within your c-suite and beyond, bringing those future insights to your leadership. None of your current senior leadership was probably hired to “go there”, but if you are looking to succeed and thrive in the future, then you need someone to do just that. Would you prefer that the future of your company should be determined externally by your competitors, or internally by your own people. I think we both know the answer to that. You need dedicated, internal innovation personnel to identify and present those innovations. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it – in many cases your leaders aren’t the ones who want to truly take the risks something like the phrase “Everything is on the table” entail, but that will be the sole purpose of your innovation personnel, to not just “go there”, but encourage your people to “go there”, to develop those out-of-the-box solutions, to truly capture the spirit of “everything”.