Can you imagine what would have happened if in a brainstorming session at Apple several years ago Steve Jobs said something like,
“Listen up everybody. A guy approached me earlier and showed me an old jukebox that still works. It reminded me… I love jukeboxes. Always have. Always will. So, I am dedicating millions of dollars to the mass development of jukeboxes. If we market ourselves effectively, I think every home in America will have a jukebox within ten years.”
I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to conclude the entire organization would have considered Jobs not fit to remain at the helm. Steve Jobs was a brilliant man, but part of his brilliance that often goes unnoticed is that he purposefully chose to surround himself with “think outside the box” people. He wanted a culture that dared to be innovative – to not just be in front of the competition, but to revolutionize the way people interacted with technology. The result: over 50% of all American households now own at least one Apple device.
Everyone can’t be Steve Jobs, but every organization can strive to be innovative.
Leaders can stop and listen to the ideas of those in the trenches. They can take the time to study employee development trends and, even when budgets are tight, find a way to implement a pro-development culture. Organizations who ignore strategic allotment of such energies may soon find themselves facing a major talent crunch. In other words, they may attempt to survive by remaining a jukebox culture in an iTunes world.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like jukeboxes. When I was a teen, I loved going down to the arcade, dropping a quarter in the jukebox, and heading off to save the planet from space invaders. But here’s the deal – what used to involve a trip from my house to the arcade now involves grabbing my iPad and having the entire music universe at my fingertips. I can still enjoy a jukebox occasionally. I might even purchase one for my game room one day, but I can assure you I won’t strap one to my back and carry it around with me for my music listening pleasure.
Organizations must similarly adapt. I am not advocating tossing out every tradition or sentimental memory. However, you do need to recognize that our greater culture’s technology is dramatically shifting. That means the way we equip our employees who serve that greater culture must shift as well. Some questions to consider:
- Who are our “brilliant” people?
- Are we listening to their input?
- What non-functioning systems are we still trying to make work?
- Do we have a mechanism in place to creatively brainstorm solutions?
- What part of our past is foundational and what part is no longer functional?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. So drop a quarter in the jukebox, make your selection, and share your feedback – or you can just tell Siri to do it.
Happy Training and Development!
President of Online Learning, Strategic Government Resources
Regarding promoting innovation, 2 things have worked well for me over the years: 1) in early January have brainstorming sessions that include all team staff. Utilize everyone’s group/synthesized expertise and creativity to develop “New Years Revolutions”. Then, during the rest of the year, develop and implement the ideas. When staff sees that their ideas actually get adopted, they will be even more contributive in the future; and 2) every 2-3 years, meet with staff, put together a list of the organizations most vexing challenges, then spend a week at Disney and focus particularly on how Disney has dealt with a similar challenge. Over the years, my organizations have adapted “Fast Passes”, begun asking questions about “compassion” during the interview process, etc.
Those are great ways to promote innovation, David.
Not only did you hear ideas from employees at all levels, you actually implemented them. It’s a great way for your team to know that their input counts, which helps them to become more loyal to the organization as a whole.
It’s cool how you used a fun experience as an educational moment, too.
Thanks for sharing those ideas!
I think that a failure to do this sort of thinking has hampered the work of the church. Kingdom work is different than other segments of life in that there are some unalterable truths and rules that never change, but the delivery of those truths and our interaction with the rules leaves our ministries outdated and runs the risk of others concluding that the whole enterprise is irrelevant to modern life. We can and should do better, or maybe I should say “I” can and must do better! Thanks for the good thoughts.
That’s right, Alan. In any organization, change does not have to mean straying from the fundamental truths and traditions. There does, however, need to be an evaluation on whether the delivery needs to be updated, as you said.
Thanks for your comment!