Monday September 28, 2020 0 comments
By Bill Van Eron
Future-Now Market & Biz Relevance
Headwaters Marketing & Innovation LLC
Many of us relate directly or indirectly, to how various organizations dismiss ideas rather easily. Many show bias to the source, thus never even paid attention at all. A great culture is vital to connect the best of left-brain technology or science creation with right-brain creation of the trust, engagement, inclusion, all key to earn the highest human relevance. Many employees may not see themselves as creative initially, especially when we consider the full range of skills conscious design thinkers apply. Yet when more know what we look for, and we value their attributes, qualified ideas flow in like many small streams feeding a river of greater value. That inclusion shapes greater pride and value as a system.
The value of design thinking and inclusion is notably missing in the C-Suite and on boards. I attended a few board recruitment training sessions, and so far all were still locked in conventional status quo trappings. How can a board help leaders and any organization if they are stuck in conventional trappings versus new age enablement. The role a conscious, value creation change agent can play is now more vital. Add design thinking, systems thinking, and greater empathy, trust, engagement, inclusion, vision, and proven future-now relevance and witness how all feel revitalized. Shine that light of possibility thinking, diversity, and relevance across key business functions, purpose, and more, as earned relevance is determined by internal and external stakeholders with 100% transparency. You earn that collective regard, as I did every time for HP, & greater success follows.
I hope, for all of our sakes, to change that with certainty as to how these organizations will fly where most feel bogged down by change. New age requirements demand these skills plus many found in diversity, empathy, and now also as crucial to elevate core function's effectiveness, including sales, marketing, brand, PR, HR, and tech-only research.
There are two sides to everything in life that matter and business is no exception. Design thinking integrates both triggers, values, and resistance, so the solution addresses all reasonable factors, as inclusive. I apply that to my approach for agile transformation all benefit by almost immediately and sustain as a growing advantage. Naysayers may have some rooting in logic while overlooking the need for higher emotional intelligence to reflect high value and need directly and indirectly across human value systems. The advantage of design thinking is both factors are designed in. That is one of many forms of inclusion all, or most still miss. We can all support leaders that own up to the value more of us help create.
We all get stuck in status quo limitations. Even most who chose design careers as I did, were happy creating value and engagement above the norms. I loved design and admit I, too, was OK with the business basics and using our skills to shape a vital layer of relevance. Had I not cared about the company I worked for, I doubt many or any of us would abandon a comfort zone shaped to enable what we love. Yet, when a major design awards judge gave me the top award and shared that I was doing hero marketing, that and another insightful mentor opened my world to far greater significance all can share in creating and earning.
Sure, when I opted to leave my top-ranked design job in HP to immerse myself in HP’s customer-facing stakeholder ecosystem, I felt great risk and uncertainty. But when a salesperson on my new team greeted me as a "converted factory puke", I saw their point immediately and fully embraced the newness to all of us as a great stimulus to higher value and effectiveness. This catalyzed the six notions, I will share now for you to consider:
- Few of us can champion values, truths, perspectives, needs, or resistance factors without investing beyond corporate norms. Especially when those norms already earn a poor reputation. Moving your family to immerse oneself in environs and among stakeholders – customers, employees, channel partners, market influencers – can be hard on the family. In addition, I averaged 70 hours a week. But what I heard, saw, evaluated, and shared with our team, catalyzed all of us to matter. Our team exceeded 3 times the highest quota each of the two years I was there. We observed, shared, evaluated, acted on what really mattered that all corporate functions were too distant to understand. We did so quickly, inexpensively, objectively, and as a team not trapped into status quo actions. Rather consciously observant of the goals, challenges, hopes, attitudes, and actions of real business humanity in play.
This improved management presentations, reseller training, customer events, or earned trust and relevance with regard to analysts, trade, and business editors, as the surest path to credibility and global preference. One high-level manager in a suit sat on a bucket I had super-glued, awaiting a team member to do a skit. He anxiously told me his wife loved him because of me. His closet had been 15 blue suits Now it had an Indiana Jones, a King, and a scuba diving costume she loved having him wear at parties.
My next goal was to divide and conquer as any organization that depends on customer journey research alone, is missing the huge opportunity to shape relevance across the very internal and external stakeholder system with 100% transparency, thus they define who is worthy and who is not as key to your success. Words alone, sans actions, will fail fast.
- Leverage your attributes to get beyond limiting job descriptions. As a designer in NYC, I knew my career depended on my staying open-minded, empathetic to others, seeking enlightenment and stimulus from a wide variety of sources. I used to believe that design and most creative pursuits that require authenticity and originality more than justified this firm requirement, as if any of us could not deliver, we would be fired. Thankfully that never happened. The irony is that the values we learn to connect with through design and even more so through systems thinking, now represent what leaders have to understand and enable in others who have deeper vested insights.
- Do your job while championing the values that all relevant stakeholders seek as credible evidence to your business worthiness, or not. I applied these values in all functions after I immersed myself directly into each. I see a better system now, with the same integrity.
- Seek and embrace a diversity of viewpoints whether sharing core assumptions, major needs ahead, challenges, or major opportunities. Lose false egos. Embrace this process.
- We all risk falling into status quo trappings. Invite periodic objectivity infusions. When I used to paint or shape an illustration, I often asked others to share what each visual meant to them, as well as any emotional or purely logical attachment. This is also key in business.
- Balance left-brain science and technology skillsets with right-brain attention to value creation, humanity, trust, and higher relevance. This business creativity, often limited to marketing and product design is notably short-sighted in all or most tech firms, and all that emulate them, with regard to the absolute need to earn greater relevance. Beyond just marketing, PR, and brand; design and systems thinking are best infused in C-Suite, Boards and to the benefit of culture, HR, and leadership in the ranks…all conducive to inspiring more insightful ideas and challenging the status quo. We all need conscious champions. Notably, greater attention to employees, market influencers & customers as humans, versus as stalked prey, per current approaches. But we should know that as we too resent it.
This major shift to shared significance is a major need well overdue. It is far less about me, yet now as a proven, growing need most benefit by seeing and preparing for. I applaud all recently on this path to pay attention to others and shaping a values-based business to help leaders and all staff to transform from status quo trappings to enablers of greater shared relevance. I also am pleased when I connect with true enablers who have ventured further into this path, as they too will soon realize what I saw and applied as bolder actions on a stronger support foundation from 1990 through 2000 for HP and others. It proved how diversity & inclusion are key to innovation, integrity, culture, higher relevance & revenues. More on that in my next blog. The more open-minded and value-oriented we are, the more we matter.