What isn’t there can often trump what is.
Business architects, strategists, and planners like to create comprehensive, coherent, and complete models. This might be exactly what is needed in some cases but most of the time they are spending 80% of their effort for the last 20% of the model – and adding very little value in the process. Executives are rarely enamored with complex, data heavy viewpoints. They are searching for insight and meaning. One of my standing pieces of advice for business architects is: “less data, more insight.”
The simplest rules create the most effective experience.
People come to work every day wanting to do their best. Often it is well-intended “rules” that get in the way of actually producing their best. As an ex-psychologist I find it fascinating that as you move higher in the organization, the prevailing view of management is influence and collaboration and as you move lower in the organization the management focus turns to control and rules. What people want are guardrails that set wide boundaries so they have the freedom to do their jobs in a way that works best for them.
Limiting information engages the imagination
Great ideas are best served half-baked. When we present a new idea to a group, we like to be prepared – have all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. In fact we are taught from a very early age that preciseness is good. But the very completeness of a new concept can turn people off. Often people react negatively to an idea because they are focused on one small element, not the big picture. Fully fleshed out ideas also don’t leave room for others to contribute and make the idea their own. Get people engaged with the concept before moving on to the details.
Creativity thrives under intelligent constraints
Early in my career I managed an incredibly talented team of technicians who saw their role as overcoming the technical and organizational constraints in their path to get the job done. One of my peers used this quote from Eric Hoffer to describe them: “The most gifted members of the human species are at their creative best when they cannot have their way.” Too often we see the constraints imposed on us as roadblocks instead of opportunities for creative solutions.
Break is the important part of breakthrough
I work with lots of strategists but I don’t see a lot of interesting strategy. Most of what I see are strategies for incremental improvement – more of the same, but better. Everyone needs these types of strategies, but it is the really innovative strategies – the out of the box ideas, the breaks with the past – that create breakthrough performance. At Accelare, we use the Blue Ocean technique of value mapping to help organizations find breakthrough strategies that differentiate them from their competitors or their past. If you really want to be better, you have to be different.
Doing something isn’t always better than doing nothing
Action is highly over rated. Thinking is the hard work and finding the time to think is even harder. Most managers live inside a tornado of back-to-back meetings and deliverable deadlines. Everyone wants us to act and then act faster. Yet, to improve and grow, what we need most is time to think, to ponder, to muse, to reflect, to dream. This is where the magic happens, where new ideas are hatched, where new worlds are imagined, where our lives are changed.