“People like you to be something, preferably what they are.” -John Steinbeck
José came back from lunch completely stoked. The young engineer had been hired straight out of college into a small firm that embraced innovation. One of the company’s principals, Mike, told José during his interview the firm looked for recent grads who could inject fresh ideas into their processes. Six months into the job, José saw that Mike had been true to his word. Mike often came to José asking his thoughts on work processes and design tools to keep his perspective fresh. With these experiences in mind, José didn’t stop by his cube before running up to Mike to describe his lunchtime discovery.
On one of his news feeds, José had seen an article describing the HR initiatives Reed Hastings at Netflix had implemented. The chief point on José’s mind was the “take time off when you need it” policy. The usually receptive Mike soured at José’s suggestion the firm implement a similar policy. Crestfallen,
José went back to his cube. Another one of the firm’s principals had heard Mike and José’s exchange and asked Mike why he had shut down the young engineer’s thoughts. Mike launched into a litany of reasons ranging from the disparity between their small shop and the talent pool of Netflix, but the final emphatic point was that for the last thirty years he had to schedule vacation time and by Ned, he wasn’t going to let a rookie take off on a whim.
Someone like José will be far less likely to present new ideas in any area after an exchange like that. We cannot simply turn an innovative workplace off and on like a light switch. Either we foster an environment that craves new ideas and evaluates them on the basis of their true merits, or we cling to our outmoded biases and work processes. True innovators do not pick and choose what topics are fair game for innovation. Either you’re an innovator, or you aren’t.
- On a scale of one to ten (one being low and ten being high), how would you rate the “spirit of innovation” in your project, business, or workplace?
- Unless your rating was an eight, nine, or ten, what things must be changed to increase that “spirit of innovation” to nine or ten?
- What three actions can YOU take right now to positively impact this situation?
Dr. Jeff D. Standridge is the best-selling author of “The Innovator’s Field Guide” and “The Top Performer’s Field Guide.” He serves as Managing Director for the Conductor and Innovation Junkie, and teaches in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas. Jeff helps organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. Learn more at InnovationJunkie.com.