Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Practical innovation/ constructive feedback

Aug. 2, 2017 "Practical innovation can give your company an edge": Today I found this article by Mojdeh Poul in the Globe and Mail:

It may be the most overused word in today’s business lexicon – a favourite of chief executives, boards, investors and governments who see it as key to economic growth and competitiveness. And a lack of it puts companies at a major disadvantage in a rapidly changing business environment.

That word, of course, is innovation.

While true innovation must be a priority for Canadian businesses and the people who lead them, it’s not a simple undertaking. As someone who leads the Canadian arm of a company that’s been adapting and innovating for 115 years, I know it can be done. More important, I see the impact it has across all aspects of our business, each and every day.

But I also know how challenging it can be for some companies, especially large ones, to be agile enough to foster and apply innovative ideas.

Define “innovation”

For me, innovation means value creation – for our customers, for the company and for shareholders. When you innovate a solution that is capable of uniquely addressing an unmet need, you create the value that gives your company a competitive advantage.

At 3M, science is key to our innovation. We work in collaborative ways with our customers and suppliers to turn great ideas into practical solutions.

Keep customers front and centre

You don’t have to be a science based company to be innovative, but you do need to focus on practical innovation and engage your customers early in the process to ensure you are developing solutions that add value.

Successful innovation meets a need and therefore has a market, and the best way to make sure that happens is to keep your customers front and centre in everything you do.

Be disruptive

True innovation requires a deep understanding of the ecosystem you operate within and applying technologies, processes or partnerships in unique ways to create solutions no one else has thought of or implemented before.

Early collaboration with your customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders makes it easier to drive innovation throughout the entire process – from research and development to production, and from new product solutions to disruptive business models.

Protect your R&D investment

Research and development (R&D) is at the heart of innovation. It is critical for business leaders to protect their company’s investments in R&D regardless of performance challenges faced in the market or within their company.

Cutting R&D spending when times are tough might provide a shortterm boost to the bottom line but will almost certainly lead to long-term declines in competitiveness, growth and profitability.

Create a sense of urgency

Today, our world is changing at a rapid pace. We are in the midst of an unprecedented cycle of new disruptive technologies and business models that are profoundly altering the way we live and work.

Leaders need to drive a sense of urgency around the need for continuous innovation and be ambitious in tackling the most challenging problem of their customers or markets.

Play to your strengths

The impact is always the greatest when you build on your core competencies. Prioritize and align your innovation efforts to your core capabilities and most attractive market opportunities.

Leverage your unique strengths, including the diversity of your work force, your operational and organizational capabilities and your brand equity, to name a few.

Tolerate risk

The best innovation happens when you create an environment where employees feel comfortable taking some risks, but this must be done responsibly and with accountability to the business.

The best ideas are somewhere between pure creativity and realism.
If you want your organization to be truly innovative, it’s time to stop talking and start doing.


Aug. 4, 2017 "Tips for providing employees with effective, constructive feedback": Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail:

Say the word “feedback” and most people assume that it is about negative behaviour – something that needs to be corrected.

Consultants Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman have pointed out that most leaders “vastly underestimate the power and necessity of positive reinforcement.” Research shows positive feedback increases employees’ sense that they’re learning and growing at their jobs, makes them feel valued and leads to increased confidence and competence.

Mr. Zenger told Leah Fessler of Quartz that managers shy away from giving positive feedback because they fear it will create close relationships with employees they may need to fire in the future. Or it may be viewed as meaningless bafflegab designed to win favour.

The formula to apply for positive feedback is to be specific, discuss the impact of the other person’s behaviour and show your gratitude. General compliments tend not to be long-lasting.

Mr. Zenger recommends singling out the specific behaviour or trait you observed and when you observed it. Always end with “thank you.”

Make sure to communicate why you’re praising someone – how the individual’s behaviour positively affects the performance of the organization or team. That moves it from the individual to the collective.

“It’s always nice to be told you’re talented. But for the purposes of getting good work done, you’re far more likely to be motivated by knowing that, because you buckled down and met a tough deadline, you saved the company from losing a big client,” Ms. Fessler reports.

Psychologist Markus van Alphen notes on the Lead Change blog that, at its core, feedback is about behaviour that can be modified.

“It is different from criticism, in that the person receiving the feedback is actually able to do something with it. Feedback, in its simplest form, is nothing other than giving someone a tip, a suggestion how to handle something differently.

In its most complicated form, it is an observation on the effects of certain behaviour and a suggestion as to what alternative behaviour would be preferred,” he observes.

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