My company has served the U.S. federal government for the past 30 years, operating in five states and the District of Columbia. As a business owner who considers her company as family, I am proud of our accomplishments. And yet, we’ve long struggled with managing the day-to-day tasks necessary in any organization, while nurturing our teams’ products and solutions. Any entrepreneur knows this isn’t an easy road, and while none of us can ever reach perfection, I think my company has finally found a “secret sauce” to keep our teams encouraged, while getting everything done in between.
The Three Critical Components
Any effective balance between maintenance and innovation rests on three critical components: First, you must communicate the impact of innovation throughout the organization. To be truly effective, everyone must be on board with your vision. Second, you and your executive team must set goals for what will be a long process and journey ahead. Consistently measure where everyone is in relation to achieving these targets so you can recognize and celebrate achievements. Third, your teams must maintain an attitude of adventure. It’s easy to focus on everyday issues, rather than creating a journey that’s fun for everyone. The only way this is possible is through a strong leader, or leaders, who can make sure everyone feels secure and put everything in perspective for their teams.
Brainstorm, Enact and Reward
Brainstorm: Part of preparing teams for brainstorming is through the sharing of failures. I’ve shared ideas I thought were great and turned out to be a total bust. This is part of the process; it’s a good thing. If you don’t have ideas that are a “bust,” you’re not having enough good ideas. Another misconception is the confusion between innovation and invention. Some people don’t see themselves as creative and don’t know how they can be “innovative.” But innovation is not the same thing as invention; we define innovation as “change adding value to an organization or customer.” After prefacing the brainstorm, we provide several forums for employees to give suggestions. These include weekly meetings for every project, conversations between employees and their supervisors, and discussion blogs on our intranet.
Read the rest of Victoria’s story in the March 2016 issue of Octane magazine. Request a free copy by emailing us!