Great strategy and fantastic innovation, two of the biggest ideas out there, yet they are so difficult and illusive to actualize.
Strategy in its simplest form is nothing more than taking what you know right now, or even after you’ve done your due diligence and research and looking at what the market and economy is like for your area – your region. Then, projecting down the road, three months, six months or two years to see what your possible outcomes could be. You are strategizing to see if you can be successful at some point in the future.
And, yes, you do have to consider who will be your competition. That competition could be other direct competitors or it could come from firms who could, once they see your success, create a new division within their organization solely to compete with your business.
Having a very good Predictive Analysis (or Visual Analysis) solution will help immeasurably with this effort so you can see what you can do using a good Dashboard component. But if you cannot get your hands on that kind of software, then good ole thinking and brain storming is going to be your salvation.
You have to take your thinking seriously, very seriously. And make no mistake about it – it will be some considerable thinking on your (and your team) part.
As you go through your thought processes, you have to plan ahead as far as feasible, while considering the multiple, possible stumbling blocks you ‘might’ come across. Part of the problem however, is getting buy-in from others on the team or a champion/sponsor from management and/or the executive staff.
Sometimes however, you will come across people who will ‘only’ want to use their thoughts and ideas. And this may occur at times when that ‘other’ will know that they are in the minority or are just wrong in some venture. These individuals may be part of a culture of people who do not want to collaborate or be part of a team – they just ‘might’ prefer to see only their name on this or that project and are not willing to share any credit.
Beware of people who:
— Do not want to collaborate
— Intentionally lie to you just to get your input and ideas and do not share the ensuing credit
— Listen to you (to patronize you) and then just throw your ideas out the window while continuing on with their own ideas
On the other hand, “ALWAYS” look for people who ‘want’ to strategize and collaborate together to maybe work on some innovative ideas. These are individuals who:
— Are always asking others for thoughts and ideas to see if they are beneficial for an ongoing project
— Do share the credit of success
— Are willing to take on new team members
— Are willing to listen (more later on)
But let’s talk about thinking for a moment. Thinking is a significant section of everything you do and it desires its’ rightful place. You must think about what people are telling you, think about what you see and read – then form your conclusions based on what you have gathered.
What you’ve gathered may be conjecture, fanciful thoughts, concrete examples and rock solid facts – they will all add up and it falls to you, and your team, to remove the chaff from the needed bits of data.
You will need to have some periods of quietness, amidst the chaotic storms of many open-pit workplaces today, to do your solid thinking, free of distractions and disruptions. Very, very few people, these rare folks, are able to concentrate and block out everything around them for hours at a time. You might need to go to a quiet zone, if you are lucky enough at your firm to have these, or outside to a meditation area (again, lucky). But if you do not have access to these kinds of areas, it makes it difficult to have “quality” periods of thinking. You may have to wind up going to the lunch room or cafeteria, taking some supplies (pen and paper for sure) with you to work with. When you do go to the cafeteria, you will need ear plugs… Lastly, you are going to have to break in other employees that you want to be left alone if they see you are working and not there to shoot the breeze.
Then there is the necessary area of critical thinking. Not only do you have to do some quality thinking about what you see, hear and read – you have to do critical thinking at times.
You have to think, not just from your own viewpoint but also from the perspective of someone else. You will at times need to put yourself in the shoes of others and then see:
— What are the pros and cons of making decision A or decision B or decision X?
— Or, can we afford this, can we not afford that?
— What are the effects tomorrow, next week or a year from now?
— Roadblocks – are there any impending blockages that could rear up in the form of recalcitrant or contrarian people, a work environment not conducive to success or the lack of available tools needed for staff to be successful in getting your product out the door
You have to consider, critically, how the surrounding environment of wherever you work or where your product is intended for – what will the ensuing effect on creating your product or finishing your product.
You have to consider who is going to receive your product, the environment of where that customer(s) works and what that customer does in their daily lives. You do not want to create something that does not jive with the customer(s) expectations. You have to create your product specifically with that customer in mind. You have to be critical in thinking about what goes into your product. Will that customer want a:
— High level product or one full of details – will they appreciate it if you give/sell them both versions
— Glossy, slick product that is eye catching
— Product with a good balance of images and info or no
— Product with only the exact requirements they requested or do you take a risk and provide more – this is a fine line here and you had best know your customer in order to get them the product they want or believe they want
Yes, you absolutely must listen with serious consideration to everyone around you rather than with just giving others a miniscule amount of attention or lip service to what they are saying or putting forth.
You need to listen to the experts as they give you their learned advice but – you need to take that advice and information with a grain of salt. The reason is that there are experts and there are experts, each of them may have a different perspective as to their knowledge. Their advice may vary little from other experts or it may vary radically. Sometimes, they do come together for one conclusion on some topic.
Then, there are others who may not be an expert in that field but may still have valuable information to share if you are willing to listen. It may be enough to tilt an entire decision process because that person may have sparked an even better idea.
Listening is an art form. If you look someone in the eye and are giving them your undivided attention as you listen to them – well, that makes you a winner. People want to be heard, even if you listen to them for two minutes. Those two minutes might mean the world to them and yes, the two minutes may have to come out of your busy schedule…
Creativity & Innovation
What can I say here? Hmmmm….
How about this? You have to push yourself to think differently. You have to recognize that you will need to get out of your comfort zone to gather ideas which could be counter to what you are used to.
You have to think of ways you can improve the work you are doing, the way you are doing it and how you engage with others in getting yours AND their tasks completed. Sometimes you can gen up multiple ideas on your own – if you have a broad world view and have been exposed to many things throughout your life. But it may not be easy at first as you try to breech those thick, built up walls that have congealed over a lifetime.
You just need to start looking at things differently, thinking of ‘What if’ for what you see. Go watch a sci-fi movie or a zombie flick and let your mind wonder and ponder the possibilities of what you can take away from that movie, in using some piece of some scene you saw.
Or go to a park and watch how people go about their lives and look for something that someone is doing and see if a light bulb goes off in your head.
Get outside your usual zone and become serendipitous – visit other web sites you don’t normally go to, watch news programs you never go to in order to gain different perspectives, listen to some of the various shows on
TED or TEDx (science, sci-fi, educational, art, music, global environmental issues) – or go to museums to see what can spark your fancy to get your juices flowing…
You simply have to work at generating ideas – as many ideas as you can. Many good (and bad) useful and beneficial products come out of this cornucopia of ideas. It does not matter if they are good or goofy, as long as you generate them. Sooner or later one or three of them will be something worthwhile.
Being creative or innovative means you are not constrained to some previous idea and you only want to stick with it because you, YOU, are comfortable with it. That or your bosses are the ones who are holding things back… You have to have divergent thinking or be willing to work at having divergent thoughts and ideas to see what shakes loose from that money tree.
I include image because the idea that one “must” dress up in a suit and a tie, or skirt, blouse and jacket combo to be professional, well, I just find it preposterous (yep, an archaic and ancient word but it is one that is most apt).
One can be a successful professional in jeans and t-shirts, yes, you really can. But not torn jeans, fishnet t-shirt or tank tops.
It is about what you, you as an individual, convey in your mannerisms and your attitude as you go about getting things done and working with others. Clothing is only a small part of who you are. If others are focused on how you dress and how you look (good looks versus less than good looks) rather than how well you perform – the person doing the looking (and judging) is losing out on your productiveness and what your company can gain. Hopefully of course, you are not dressing up as a bum or a punk in ratty, torn clothing…
It is up to the company to convey to the customers how important your productivity is to the firm, more than how well you can dress – that makes the firm so successful.
In addition, it is also about your brand, your own brand – your reputation. It is about how credible you come across to others in your professional and personal life. If you manage to come across with the attitude of:
— Being confident,
— Getting the job done,
— Being aggressive (not overbearing aggression) and
— Doing what you say you can do (and then doing a bit more than promised)
you will “always” be successful in making your image that much more credible and marketable.
If you are a productive and successful individual, it should never matter whether you are:
— Male or female
— Of a different race or culture
— Not as attractive
— Gay or straight or even if
— You talk differently (accent or not as educated as others)
None of these traits should matter if you are successful or if you show you are a high caliber worker / employee / staff member / team member. All that matters is if you can successfully engage with others or if you are willing to try to engage, continually trying to engage…
While you, the individual, have made your own brand successful, you in turn, will also make the firm you work for successful. That simply adds to a favorable brand for the firm…
The bottom line is, is that you are all successful. Some people are more successful than others, in all kinds of situations. But to me, the most successful people are those who help others become successful. The successful bring others along with them on the successful ride, with the clear hopes and aspirations that it will continue for a long, long time.
All aboveboard, free of any and all subterfuge, free of any chicanery that many like to foist on others.
Being smart and/or having an Ivy League education are only part of the battle in strategy and innovation. You can have community college level education and still be successful. It is also about how you use what you know, what your team mates know and what the community knows of which you can borrow from mistakes already encountered and of knowledge already gained and put it to use in your firm.
Do not let the idea of you ‘not’ being creative or innovative slow you down; this is only a minor obstacle or problem you need to overcome. If you work at it, it will happen. You can be an achiever, you just need to work at it and show it in whatever you do. Failing at some task or project is only a minor impediment (or it should be). What is important is that you learn from that failure so you don’t do it again but can put it to great use the next time around.
Value, or some method of valuation, is what should be the end result. You should show something that everyone can see the value of, even if others cannot see the value tomorrow – they may see it for what it is worth next month or next year.
However, sad as it is to say, it would be best if others can see the value of your strategic and innovative efforts tomorrow.