Monday November 13, 2017 0 comments
By Bill Van Eron
Lead Goof-Off for Fun, Trust, Refueling & Profits
Headwaters Marketing & Innovation
The dial has not moved much per Gallup’s report earlier this year stating 70% of employee’s are emotionally disconnected from work.
Yet, clearly any organization hoping to be successful is dependent on engaged, enabled employees. Pressuring them further is not the answer for generations seeking greater meaning in work and life. I also see business agility as too often falsely defined as non-stop productivity (burnout) and doing more with less, thus creating high stress environs. If you feel you are in such an environ, don’t despair as there are things you can do or better options to affect success personally and organizationally.
Looking back: I still smile today as I recall the reaction of management way back in the late seventies. HP was yet a mid-sized growing company when a marketing team mate was asked by management why he was just sitting at his desk, head back, feet up in the air, just chilling. As a fellow creative, he adeptly replied that the best way to solve creative problems was to relax, kick back and remove stress.
For managers used to cracking the proverbial productivity whip by expecting employees to always look busy – as some still do today - this was a welcomed, more advanced, conscious response to the principles that properly define human problem solving productivity.
Thankfully, that manager accepted the answer. That acceptance helped to define an HP culture all employees were proud to be part of. The need for a better understanding of human enablement where originality, relevance and value drive success, will drive unprecedented business humanity as a major transformation affecting all aspects of life, work, education, culture and empowerment.
Personal and organizational transformation has a wealth of accessible knowledge, some of which can initially appear intimidating.
It is best taken on as natural interdependent quality human connections that build trust, relevance, open dialog, ongoing learning and a healthier business ecosystem. Good friend and colleague Steve Pearson of the Pearson Group in Austin wrote this blog that triggered my additive blog. https://pearsonstrategy.com/2012/12/goofing-around/
No matter our expertise, we all should be open to and embrace cross=pollination of ideas. Steve is a consummate innovation coach with a broad understanding of business and the human condition and work environments as enabling innovation or limiting it.
In his blog, which I encourage you to read in full, he states the following:
"Do you give employees time to goof off? Some do!
“I’ve mentioned before that I believe all companies should invest time in thinking strategically. How much time should you allow employees to dream big? Will the results pay off for your business?
"Let’s look at examples of how highly innovative companies handle time for creativity. Not coincidentally, all three are profitable technology companies.
"Google's employees follow a “20 percent time” model: 70 percent of their time should be devoted to their “job role,” 20 percent for “technical projects of their own choosing,” and the remaining 10 percent is “free time” to be innovative and creative.
"Apple's strategic thinking program is named “Blue Sky” and “gives a small group of employees 2 weeks or ‘a limited amount of time’ to work on a project outside of their normal responsibilities.”
"LinkedIn has more of a startup company experience called InCubator where “engineers can get 30 to 90 days away from their regular work to develop ideas of their own into products.” Their ideas must turn into prototypes that go through judging before proceeding to implementation.
"All three companies provide non-executive employees time to think strategically.
"Fantastic! I believe strong strategic ideas can be generated from any level of the organization and allocating time for this purpose is a win-win for the employee and company.” -- Steve Pearson.
Building on this great insight by Steve, there are several guidelines that can help you to shape your own path to creating an environment that naturally fuels personal and organizational discovery so as to increase the meaning of work by maximizing their business humanity:
- You need to allocate at least 80% of all business priorities and mindset to the value tenets shaping your external market ecosystem. When that is not in place, companies gravitate to closed cultures, business silos, risk aversion and protecting the status quo…as too many still do today.
- Even when all employees support a mission to be highly responsive to customer’s needs, timeouts and revitalization investments reduce the stress levels where work is repetitive and based on speed, especially where work requires new thinking and creativity.
- Don’t try to be the know-it-all “expert” as that greatly cuts off ongoing vital objectivity or inclusive, inspired teams. Many companies and CEOs are continually amazed at how people outside their industry and some within it, can see opportunities and challenges far more clearly. Our approach eliminates most barriers to success, prepares and empowers champions within, so leadership becomes a shared reality. That is the chemistry that defines a highly functional, value aligned ecosystem.
The following reference examples as vital to engineering your own future, creating business relevance, refueling stations for our souls, welcoming diversity and new stimulus, getting beyond our comfort zones and recognizing the seeds of innovation no matter the source:
- I read and hear so many younger generations lament about getting stuck in jobs with little real meaning, enablement or recognition for success. Many wait on managers to recognize their hidden talents and to define more meaningful work. I instead opted to leap out of any debilitating work definitions and champion our customers less obvious needs to internal thinking organizations. Likewise, I hear Boomers lamenting about feeling stuck in the past as they hesitated to embrace the future soon enough. Conscious champions hail a new wave of self-empowered transformation catalysts.
- The majority of businesses and organizations seem stuck in business usual mode (boring us to tears), yet some that try to make things fun, also tend to suffer if the effort isn’t genuine. When I was asked by my HP salesforce how to make a supplies vendor appreciation event better, the norm for our 20-foot-square booth would be to yet again profile our products. Instead, I found a guy with a boxing ring and had him set that up as our primary booth space. We invited our customers to “step into the ring with HP.” The contrarian nature of the headline and the novelty of a boxing ring and the ability to dress the part – robe, gloves, bruise makeup – was the hit of the show.
- Create and expose yourself to environments of high stimulus. I loved growing up in NYC where diversity encompasses more than ethnicity; it creates a respected environment to openly debate new thinking, invite contrarian viewpoints to collaborate on what really matters. As a creative director in NYC, stimulus was abundant every day, every hour, if you were simply observant and open to it. By expanding my mindset and skills to embrace possibility, critical and systems thinking - there is little I can view organizationally, market-wise or emerging trend impacts - that lead me to major insights, strategies, impassioned organizations and outrageous results. There are many ways to increase the relevance of any organization. It starts with committing to matter internally and externally.
- Getting beyond your comfort zones to evolve to a higher value for others. Most organizations have a dominating core culture that skews the balance needed to relate to markets, channels and this new influence ecosystem. By leaving your own comfort zones – as I did for HP - to master a broader value perspective, and champion something vital yet deficient in your organization, you will soon have no bosses, only fans and enablers to do work that matters. You also do not lose your core skills, you help them to transcend limited definitions to create a broader palette for value creation, enriched experiences, and trust.
This is a time when conscious value actions, well beyond the words, define today’s winners. My blogs will circle a new proverbial wagon that carries more of us to a new promised land as key to creating the next interdependent economy where more win. I hope this dialog becomes pertinent to more of us that want a better world that evolves through change versus accepting false barriers.