REINVENT CONTINUOUSLY: IDEAS FOR ACTION

Excerpted with permission from the 3rd Chapter of “Uncommon Greatness: Five Fundamentals to Transform Your Leadership” by Mark Miller

Note from Bob:  My friend, Mark Miller, has done it again!  Mark has written another “Must Read” book for every leader who is committed to continuously to increase their Leadership Effectiveness!  And if I might be so bold, if a leader is not committed to increasing their Leadership Effectiveness they shouldn’t be leading!  As you will see below, today’s post will be the first of 3 Parts!  

If vision is the fire motivating a leader and an organization to move into an unknown future with confidence, the wood for the fire is found in this third Fundamental: Reinvent Continuously. For the best leaders, Reinvent Continuously is a practice, a mindset, and a personal discipline.

Following are three strategies for you to consider to help you increase your proficiency on this fun and high-impact Fundamental:

  1. Think Different – Posted Below: 
  2. Cultivate Creativity  – Click HERE to read
  3. Lead Change – Click HERE to read

THINK DIFFERENT

What’s your favorite ad campaign? You may have to think about that for a minute. For me, the answer is the Think Different campaign launched by Apple in 1997. Here are a few lines from the iconic television ad:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently . . . While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

How do you think differently, particularly if this is not your natural bent or bias? I have some ideas for your consideration.

Invest the Time

Where do ideas come from? For me, this question is impossible to answer. Their source is not the product of a replicable process. The great ideas can come in a eureka moment or as the result of years of inquiry, experimentation, and setbacks. However, there are inputs that can facilitate breakthrough ideas. Of all the elements I am aware of, the most precious and most often overlooked is time. I just admitted that sometimes a great idea is revealed in a moment of inspiration. However, this is both rare and often misinterpreted. In many of the flashes of inspiration, the problem had been simmering for weeks, months, or even years. Here’s the truth about mining for great ideas—it typically takes time.

One egregious infraction I have seen repeated over and over throughout my career is the failure to invest adequate time when brainstorming.

In his book What a Great Idea, Chic Thompson cites research that reveals two levels of brainstorming. In Level One, the participants basically capture what is already known or has been tried previously. Depending on who is in the room, this phase typically requires forty-five minutes to complete. Only then can you move into Level Two. This is the domain of the new, novel, and unexpected.

How many times in your life have you participated in a “failed” brainstorming session that was less than forty-five minutes?

If you are not willing to invest the time, you’ll never find the gold. If you choose to use a technique like brainstorming with your team, increase the amount of time you are willing to invest; I suggest a minimum of ninety minutes. There’s much more to say about this subject. If you want my Ten Tips for Brilliant Brainstorming, go to LeadEveryDay.com/uncommon

Consider the Opposite

Several years ago, I was trying to help a nonprofit organization increase participation in their events. The team was bright, engaged, and eager to improve. At least they were fully engaged until I told them what we were going to do. Here’s a condensed version of the conversation as I set up the day.

“Today, I know you want to think creatively about how to increase attendance at your events. I agree that would be a wonderful outcome. However, I want to ask a different question: What would you need to do to depress attendance?” They looked at me as if I had lost my mind. Remember, I was a guest facilitator. I’m assuming several members of the team thought to themselves, Who invited this wacko?

I could sense the tension in the room, but I pushed on. “I know this feels strange—let’s just try this. I think it could be fun.” Slowly and reluctantly, they began to share ideas ranging from the bizarre to the pedestrian.

“We could physically change the location of the event every week and make folks find us. We could make it impossible to park. What if we were not friendly when people arrived? What if we took down all the wayfinding signage? We could constantly change the published event time—then, totally disregard it. Some weeks we could start late and other weeks we could blow past our stated end time.”

I was capturing them all on flip chart pages and putting them on the wall. At several points the energy dropped and the ideas slowed to a crawl, but we persisted. We probably did this for two hours. At that point we had maybe 150 ideas.

I stopped the ideation and said, “Take a look at the list; do you see anything we should talk about?” The room sat in silence—it felt like an eternity while everyone read the list. Finally, one person raised their hand as if they needed my permission to share their observation.

“Uh . . . we do a lot of those things,” he said sheepishly. I read the room and several were nodding in agreement. “Okay,” I said. “Let’s identify all the things on this list you currently do; we’ll rank them based on their potential impact, and then we can start with the biggest opportunity and begin creating our action plan. You need to eradicate those behaviors and, in theory, your actions should increase participation.”

There were obviously a number of paths we could have taken to identify ideas to improve event attendance—in this case, by choosing to consider the opposite, the team’s next steps were obvious.

Ask More Questions

Questions are one of the most powerful tools at a leader’s disposal. They are free, available in ample supply, can be used in most any situation, and, wielded wisely, can unlock a world of previously unknown options and opportunities. There is so much to say here. I devoted an entire chapter in Smart Leadership, titled “Ask Don’t Tell,” to this topic. (If you want a free copy of that chapter, go to LeadEveryDay.com/uncommon.) For our purposes here, I want to challenge and encourage you: ask more and better questions.

When you ask a question, there are several potential benefits: You may learn something. You demonstrate your humility and vulnerability. You can also accelerate your learning when you ask a question that requires a synthesis or summary of a larger body of information.

One word about better questions. They come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s one tip. Ask more open-ended questions. These are questions that require more than a one-word response. Did you enjoy the show? Closed-ended. The better question would be open-ended: What did you enjoy most about the show?

You may also want to monitor the number of questions you ask in a typical day. I’m not suggesting you actually count them; that could be weird. However, work to increase your awareness and identify your tendencies. With your newfound awareness, experiment with asking more questions. See what happens.

Note from Bob:  You can order Mark Miller’s incredible book, “Uncommon Greatness: Five Fundamentals to Transform Your Leadership” today by clicking HERE

 

Mark Miller

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Miller is a Wall Street Journal and international best-selling author, communicator, and the former Vice President of High Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. Mark’s leadership journey at Chick-fil-A spanned 45 years, and today, he serves as the Co-Founder of LeadEveryDay.com Mark began writing almost twenty years ago, and with over one million books in print in more than twenty-five languages, his global impact continues to grow.

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