Flying the INNOVATION itinerary…

It’s well-known that flying is not an easy experience to everyone: some (like my daughter) can sleep through the whole flight, like if they were blinking their eyes and waking up some place else.

Some are simply terrified of flying and either do not fly at all, or have to take some serious pills to knock them out.

Some (like me) have a little trouble here and there, and are determined to fight the fear in order to achieve their goal of being some place else in a reasonable amount of time.

I see managing a business almost the same way: some leaders are fearless and innovative, some are conservative and act cautiously, implementing change gradually and steadily, and some are – using the same analogy as the flight one-  totally paralyzed and stuck on time, as innovation frightens them too much.

Innovation and change are necessary in almost any business scenario that I can think of, but how you incorporate change in the business you manage is really up to you.

Take as an example all the discussion on the “work from home” matter: CEOs all over are expressing their opinions and practices. Some like the idea, some do not want it – I guess it is a good thing that not all the companies operate in the exact same way…Marissa Mayer decided bring Yahoo’s employees back to the office, Trump agreed with her, while Branson (Virgin Group) wrote in a blog that her decision was “a backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever.”

One one side, remote work is considered an innovation and on the other, some think working in the office boosts collaboration, the face-to-face contact is needed.

How do you determine how much change you need or how will you bring “change” to your company ( or the company you manage)?

I have had this conversation with peers and friends who manage companies and here are some of my takes and insights:

1- Define very clearly your company culture: it can be really tricky to change or innovate something that you cannot define. For example: if your company values the opinions of all levels of employees, you could run a survey, decide the changes that need to be done and implement them with the help of your employees (recruit employees that want to “own” certain projects or phases of the implementation).

2- Throw out some ideas and try to analyze your teams’ reactions to decide on an implementation timeline ( if most of your crew is terrified of flying, you will know that either you will take longer to implement change or you will need to find some key players who can help you launch it more aggressively).

3- Use the staff already in place the most you can – innovation is not only bringing new talents, but having the ability to involve and motivate your own crew in the process: if your employees understand what need to be changed and why, and how they will be part of it, they tend to embrace innovation more easily.

4- Keep your team”s mind focused on what matters, or what they are least afraid of (focus on something’s that will not change, and relate innovation with the improvement of old processes): once I received some pretty interesting advice from a stranger that clearly saw how uncomfortable I was during my flight… He asked in which kind of environment ( or element) I thought I belonged: air, water or earth. I told him that I was really comfortable on my jet ski, in the water. So he said: whenever you are flying and feel frightened because of turbulence, picture yourself in the environment where you feel safe (so there I was picturing myself speeding against some amazing turbulent waters…). I know it sounds dorky, but it worked!

5- Be open-minded: innovation might shake your business structure and you might deal with a quite high level of fear and anxiety. Listen to your people and remember that innovation and change might not come in the perfect package and you might need to be flexible.

6- Prepare your staff to explain the great innovative changes to your customers: they might be used to your old modus operandi and might feel the hit.

No matter what kind of crew you are leading or loyal clientele that you captivated, be open to listen to them, be quick to change what did not work as expected quickly and do not be afraid of admitting that mistakes will also come with the changes.

Innovation is supposed to help your business; change is supposed to address the failures and lead you to success: if they are not doing it, rethink – fly high and adjust the itinerary, but fly towards your goals!

 

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