LIDERAZGO

How do I find innovative people for my organization? And how can I become more innovative myself?” These are questions that stump senior executives, who understand that the ability to innovate is the “secret sauce” of business success. Unfortunately, most of us know very little about what makes one person more creative than another. Perhaps for this reason, we stand in awe of visionary entrepreneurs like Apple’s Steve Jobs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar, and P&G’s A.G. Lafley. How do these people come up with groundbreaking new ideas? If it were possible to discover the inner workings of the masters’ minds, what could the rest of us learn about how innovation really happens? In searching for answers, we undertook a six-year study to uncover the origins of creative—and often disruptive—business strategies in particularly innovative companies. Our goal was to put innovative entrepreneurs under the microscope, examining when and how they came up with the ideas on which their businesses were built. We especially wanted to examine how they differ from other executives and entrepreneurs: Someone who buys a McDonald’s franchise may be an entrepreneur, but building an Amazon requires different skills altogether. We studied the habits of 25 innovative entrepreneurs and surveyed more than 3,000 executives and 500 individuals who had started innovative companies or invented new products. We were intrigued to learn that at most companies, top executives do not feel personally responsible for coming up with strategic innovations. Rather, they feel responsible for facilitating the innovation process. In stark contrast, senior executives of the most innovative companies—a mere 15% in our study—don’t delegate creative work. They do it themselves. But how do they do it? Our research led us to identify five “discovery skills” that distinguish the most creative executives: associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking. We found that innovative entrepreneurs (who are also CEOs) spend 50% more time on these discovery activities than do CEOs with no track record for innovation. Together, these skills make up what we call the innovator’s DNA. And the good news is, if you’re not born with it, you can cultivate it. What Makes Innovators Different? Innovative entrepreneurs have something called creative intelligence, which enables discovery yet differs from other types of intelligence (as suggested by Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences). It is more than the cognitive skill of being right-brained. Innovators engage both sides of the brain as they leverage the five discovery skills to create new ideas. In thinking about how these skills work together, we’ve found it useful to apply the metaphor of DNA. Associating is like the backbone structure of DNA’s double helix; four patterns of action (questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking) wind around this backbone, helping to cultivate new insights. And just as each person’s physical DNA is unique, each individual we studied had a unique innovator’s DNA for generating breakthrough business ideas. Imagine that you have an identical twin, endowed with the same brains and natural talents that you have. You’re both given one week to come up with a creative new business-venture idea. During that week, you come up with ideas alone in your room. In contrast, your twin (1) talks with 10 people—including an engineer, a musician, a stay-at-home dad, and a designer—about the venture, (2) visits three innovative start-ups to observe what they do, (3) samples five “new to the market” products, (4) shows a prototype he’s built to five people, and (5) asks the questions “What if I tried this?” and “Why do you do that?” at least 10 times each day during these networking, observing, and experimenting activities. Who do you bet will come up with the more innovative (and doable) idea? Studies of identical twins separated at birth indicate that our ability to think creatively comes one-third from genetics; but two-thirds of the innovation skill set comes through learning—first understanding a given skill, then practicing it, experimenting, and ultimately gaining confidence in one’s capacity to create. Innovative entrepreneurs in our study acquired and honed their innovation skills precisely this way. Let’s look at the skills in detail. Discovery Skill 1: Associating Associating, or the ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas from different fields, is central to the innovator’s DNA. Entrepreneur Frans Johansson described this phenomenon as the “Medici effect,” referring to the creative explosion in Florence when the Medici family brought together people from a wide range of disciplines—sculptors, scientists, poets, philosophers, painters, and architects. As these individuals connected, new ideas blossomed at the intersections of their respective fields, thereby spawning the Renaissance, one of the most inventive eras in history. To grasp how associating works, it is important to understand how the brain operates. The brain doesn’t store information like a dictionary, where you can find the word “theater” under the letter “T.” Instead, it associates the word “theater” with any number of experiences from our lives. Some of these are logical (“West End” or “intermission”), while others may be less obvious (perhaps “anxiety,” from a botched performance in high school). The more diverse our experience and knowledge, the more connections the brain can make. Fresh inputs trigger new associations; for some, these lead to novel ideas. As Steve Jobs has frequently observed, “Creativity is connecting things.” The world’s most innovative companies prosper by capitalizing on the divergent associations of their founders, executives, and employees. For example, Pierre Omidyar launched eBay in 1996 after linking three unconnected dots: (1) a fascination with creating more-efficient markets, after having been shut out from a hot internet company’s IPO in the mid-1990s; (2) his fiancée’s desire to locate hard-to-find collectible Pez dispensers; and (3) the ineffectiveness of local classified ads in locating such items. Likewise, Steve Jobs is able to generate idea after idea because he has spent a lifetime exploring new and unrelated things—the art of calligraphy, meditation practices in an Indian ashram, the fine details of a Mercedes-Benz. Associating is like a mental muscle that can grow stronger by using the other discovery skills. As innovators engage in those behaviors, they build their ability to generate ideas that can be recombined in new ways. The more frequently people in our study attempted to understand, categorize, and store new knowledge, the more easily their brains could naturally and consistently make, store, and recombine associations. Discovery Skill 2: Questioning More than 50 years ago, Peter Drucker described the power of provocative questions. “The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question,” he wrote. Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge common wisdom or, as Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata puts it, “question the unquestionable.” Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, has worked directly with a number of innovative entrepreneurs, including the founders of eBay, PayPal, and Skype. “They get a kick out of screwing up the status quo,” she told us. “They can’t bear it. So they spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about how to change the world. And as they brainstorm, they like to ask: ‘If we did this, what would happen?’” Most of the innovative entrepreneurs we interviewed could remember the specific questions they were asking at the time they had the inspiration for a new venture. Michael Dell, for instance, told us that his idea for founding Dell Computer sprang from his asking why a computer cost five times as much as the sum of its parts. “I would take computers apart…and would observe that $600 worth of parts were sold for $3,000.” In chewing over the question, he hit on his revolutionary business model. Sample of Innovative Entrepreneurs from our Study Read More To question effectively, innovative entrepreneurs do the following: Ask “Why?” and “Why not?” and “What if?” Most managers focus on understanding how to make existing processes—the status quo—work a little better (“How can we improve widget sales in Taiwan?”). Innovative entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are much more likely to challenge assumptions (“If we cut the size or weight of the widget in half, how would that change the value proposition it offers?”). Marc Benioff, the founder of the online sales software provider Salesforce.com, was full of questions after witnessing the emergence of Amazon and eBay, two companies built on services delivered via the internet. “Why are we still loading and upgrading software the way we’ve been doing all this time when we can now do it over the internet?” he wondered. This fundamental question was the genesis of Salesforce.com. Imagine opposites. In his book The Opposable Mind, Roger Martin writes that innovative thinkers have “the capacity to hold two diametrically opposing ideas in their heads.” He explains, “Without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other, they’re able to produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea.” Innovative entrepreneurs like to play devil’s advocate. “My learning process has always been about disagreeing with what I’m being told and taking the opposite position, and pushing others to really justify themselves,” Pierre Omidyar told us. “I remember it was very frustrating for the other kids when I would do this.” Asking oneself, or others, to imagine a completely different alternative can lead to truly original insights. Embrace constraints. Most of us impose constraints on our thinking only when forced to deal with real-world limitations, such as resource allocations or technology restrictions. Ironically, great questions actively impose constraints on our thinking and serve as a catalyst for out-of-the-box insights. (In fact, one of Google’s nine innovation principles is “Creativity loves constraint.”) To initiate a creative discussion about growth opportunities, one innovative executive in our study asked this question: “What if we were legally prohibited from selling to our current customers? How would we make money next year?” This led to an insightful exploration of ways the company could find and serve new customers. Another innovative CEO prods his managers to examine sunk-cost constraints by asking, “What if you had not already hired this person, installed this equipment, implemented this process, bought this business, or pursued this strategy? Would you do the same thing you are doing today?” Discovery Skill 3: Observing Discovery-driven executives produce uncommon business ideas by scrutinizing common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers. In observing others, they act like anthropologists and social scientists. Intuit founder Scott Cook hit on the idea for Quicken financial software after two key observations. First he watched his wife’s frustration as she struggled to keep track of their finances. “Often the surprises that lead to new business ideas come from watching other people work and live their normal lives,” Cook explained. “You see something and ask, ‘Why do they do that? That doesn’t make sense.’” Then a buddy got him a sneak peek at the Apple Lisa before it launched. Immediately after leaving Apple headquarters, Cook drove to the nearest restaurant to write down everything he had noticed about the Lisa. His observations prompted insights such as building the graphical user interface to look just like its real-world counterpart (a checkbook, for example), making it easy for people to use it. So Cook set about solving his wife’s problem and grabbed 50% of the market for financial software in the first year. Innovators carefully, intentionally, and consistently look out for small behavioral details—in the activities of customers, suppliers, and other companies—in order to gain insights about new ways of doing things. Ratan Tata got the inspiration that led to the world’s cheapest car by observing the plight of a family of four packed onto a single motorized scooter. After years of product development, Tata Group launched in 2009 the $2,500 Nano using a modular production method that may disrupt the entire automobile distribution system in India. Observers try all sorts of techniques to see the world in a different light. Akio Toyoda regularly practices Toyota’s philosophy of genchi genbutsu—“going to the spot and seeing for yourself.” Frequent direct observation is baked into the Toyota culture. Discovery Skill 4: Experimenting When we think of experiments, we think of scientists in white coats or of great inventors like Thomas Edison. Like scientists, innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots. (As Edison said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve simply found 10,000 ways that do not work.”) The world is their laboratory. Unlike observers, who intensely watch the world, experimenters construct interactive experiences and try to provoke unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge. The innovative entrepreneurs we interviewed all engaged in some form of active experimentation, whether it was intellectual exploration (Michael Lazaridis mulling over the theory of relativity in high school), physical tinkering (Jeff Bezos taking apart his crib as a toddler or Steve Jobs disassembling a Sony Walkman), or engagement in new surroundings (Starbucks founder Howard Shultz roaming Italy visiting coffee bars). As executives of innovative enterprises, they make experimentation central to everything they do. Bezos’s online bookstore didn’t stay where it was after its initial success; it morphed into an online discount retailer, selling a full line of products from toys to TVs to home appliances. The electronic reader Kindle is an experiment that is now transforming Amazon from an online retailer to an innovative electronics manufacturer. Bezos sees experimentation as so critical to innovation that he has institutionalized it at Amazon. “I encourage our employees to go down blind alleys and experiment,” Bezos says. “If we can get processes decentralized so that we can do a lot of experiments without it being very costly, we’ll get a lot more innovation.” How Innovators Stack Up Read More Scott Cook, too, stresses the importance of creating a culture that fosters experimentation. “Our culture opens us to allowing lots of failures while harvesting the learning,” he told us. “It’s what separates an innovation culture from a normal corporate culture.” One of the most powerful experiments innovators can engage in is living and working overseas. Our research revealed that the more countries a person has lived in, the more likely he or she is to leverage that experience to deliver innovative products, processes, or businesses. In fact, if managers try out even one international assignment before becoming CEO, their companies deliver stronger financial results than companies run by CEOs without such experience—roughly 7% higher market performance on average, according to research by Gregeren, Mason A. Carpenter, and Gerard W. Sanders. P&G’s A.G. Lafley, for example, spent time as a student studying history in France and running retail operations on U.S. military bases in Japan. He returned to Japan later to head all of P&G’s Asia operations before becoming CEO. His diverse international experience has served him well as the leader of one of the most innovative companies in the world. Discovery Skill 5: Networking Devoting time and energy to finding and testing ideas through a network of diverse individuals gives innovators a radically different perspective. Unlike most executives—who network to access resources, to sell themselves or their companies, or to boost their careers—innovative entrepreneurs go out of their way to meet people with different kinds of ideas and perspectives to extend their own knowledge domains. To this end, they make a conscious effort to visit other countries and meet people from other walks of life. They also attend idea conferences such as Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED), Davos, and the Aspen Ideas Festival. Such conferences draw together artists, entrepreneurs, academics, politicians, adventurers, scientists, and thinkers from all over the world, who come to present their newest ideas, passions, and projects. Michael Lazaridis, the founder of Research In Motion, notes that the inspiration for the original BlackBerry occurred at a conference in 1987. A speaker was describing a wireless data system that had been designed for Coke; it allowed vending machines to send a signal when they needed refilling. “That’s when it hit me,” Lazaridis recalls. “I remembered what my teacher said in high school: ‘Don’t get too caught up with computers because the person that puts wireless technology and computers together is going to make a big difference.’” David Neeleman came up with key ideas for JetBlue—such as satellite TV at every seat and at-home reservationists—through networking at conferences and elsewhere. Kent Bowen, the founding scientist of CPS technologies (maker of an innovative ceramic composite), hung the following credo in every office of his start-up: “The insights required to solve many of our most challenging problems come from outside our industry and scientific field. We must aggressively and proudly incorporate into our work findings and advances which were not invented here.” Scientists from CPS have solved numerous complex problems by talking with people in other fields. One expert from Polaroid with in-depth knowledge of film technology knew how to make the ceramic composite stronger. Experts in sperm-freezing technology knew how to prevent ice crystal growth on cells during freezing, a technique that CPS applied to its manufacturing process with stunning success. Put a Ding in the Universe Read More Practice, Practice, Practice As innovators actively engage in the discovery skills, they become defined by them. They grow increasingly confident of their creative abilities. For A.G. Lafley, innovation is the central job of every leader, regardless of the place he or she occupies on the organizational chart. But what if you—like most executives—don’t see yourself or those on your team as particularly innovative? Though innovative thinking may be innate to some, it can also be developed and strengthened through practice. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of rehearsing over and over the behaviors described above, to the point that they become automatic. This requires putting aside time for you and your team to actively cultivate more creative ideas. The most important skill to practice is questioning. Asking “Why” and “Why not” can help turbocharge the other discovery skills. Ask questions that both impose and eliminate constraints; this will help you see a problem or opportunity from a different angle. Try spending 15 to 30 minutes each day writing down 10 new questions that challenge the status quo in your company or industry. “If I had a favorite question to ask, everyone would anticipate it,” Michael Dell told us. “Instead I like to ask things people don’t think I’m going to ask. This is a little cruel, but I kind of delight in coming up with questions that nobody has the answer to quite yet.” To sharpen your own observational skills, watch how certain customers experience a product or service in their natural environment. Spend an entire day carefully observing the “jobs” that customers are trying to get done. Try not to make judgments about what you see: Simply pretend you’re a fly on the wall, and observe as neutrally as possible. Scott Cook advises Intuit’s observers to ask, “What’s different than you expected?” Follow Richard Branson’s example and get in the habit of note taking wherever you go. Or follow Jeff Bezos’s: “I take pictures of really bad innovations,” he told us, “of which there are a number.” To strengthen experimentation, at both the individual and organizational levels, consciously approach work and life with a hypothesis-testing mind-set. Attend seminars or executive education courses on topics outside your area of expertise; take apart a product or process that interests you; read books that purport to identify emerging trends. When you travel, don’t squander the opportunity to learn about different lifestyles and local behavior. Develop new hypotheses from the knowledge you’ve acquired and test them in the search for new products or processes. Find ways to institutionalize frequent, small experiments at all levels of the organization. Openly acknowledging that learning through failure is valuable goes a long way toward building an innovative culture. Try spending 15 to 30 minutes each day writing down questions that challenge the status quo in your company. To improve your networking skills, contact the five most creative people you know and ask them to share what they do to stimulate creative thinking. You might also ask if they’d be willing to act as your creative mentors. We suggest holding regular idea lunches at which you meet a few new people from diverse functions, companies, industries, or countries. Get them to tell you about their innovative ideas and ask for feedback on yours.• • • Innovative entrepreneurship is not a genetic predisposition, it is an active endeavor. Apple’s slogan “Think Different” is inspiring but incomplete. We found that innovators must consistently act different to think different. By understanding, reinforcing, and modeling the innovator’s DNA, companies can find ways to more successfully develop the creative spark in everyone.

Articulos, Creatividad, cultura organizacional, futuro organizacional, innovación, LIDERAZGO, normas en una organización, ORGANIZACION, TRABAJO EN EQUIPO, Uncategorized

ow do I find innovative people for my organization? And how can I become more innovative myself?”

These are questions that stump senior executives, who understand that the ability to innovate is the “secret sauce” of business success. Unfortunately, most of us know very little about what makes one person more creative than another. Perhaps for this reason, we stand in awe of visionary entrepreneurs like Apple’s Steve Jobs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar, and P&G’s A.G. Lafley. How do these people come up with groundbreaking new ideas? If it were possible to discover the inner workings of the masters’ minds, what could the rest of us learn about how innovation really happens?

In searching for answers, we undertook a six-year study to uncover the origins of creative—and often disruptive—business strategies in particularly innovative companies. Our goal was to put innovative entrepreneurs under the microscope, examining when and how they came up with the ideas on which their businesses were built. We especially wanted to examine how they differ from other executives and entrepreneurs: Someone who buys a McDonald’s franchise may be an entrepreneur, but building an Amazon requires different skills altogether. We studied the habits of 25 innovative entrepreneurs and surveyed more than 3,000 executives and 500 individuals who had started innovative companies or invented new products.

We were intrigued to learn that at most companies, top executives do not feel personally responsible for coming up with strategic innovations. Rather, they feel responsible for facilitating the innovation process. In stark contrast, senior executives of the most innovative companies—a mere 15% in our study—don’t delegate creative work. They do it themselves.

But how do they do it? Our research led us to identify five “discovery skills” that distinguish the most creative executives: associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking. We found that innovative entrepreneurs (who are also CEOs) spend 50% more time on these discovery activities than do CEOs with no track record for innovation. Together, these skills make up what we call the innovator’s DNA. And the good news is, if you’re not born with it, you can cultivate it.

What Makes Innovators Different?

Innovative entrepreneurs have something called creative intelligence, which enables discovery yet differs from other types of intelligence (as suggested by Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences). It is more than the cognitive skill of being right-brained. Innovators engage both sides of the brain as they leverage the five discovery skills to create new ideas.

In thinking about how these skills work together, we’ve found it useful to apply the metaphor of DNA. Associating is like the backbone structure of DNA’s double helix; four patterns of action (questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking) wind around this backbone, helping to cultivate new insights. And just as each person’s physical DNA is unique, each individual we studied had a unique innovator’s DNA for generating breakthrough business ideas.

Imagine that you have an identical twin, endowed with the same brains and natural talents that you have. You’re both given one week to come up with a creative new business-venture idea. During that week, you come up with ideas alone in your room. In contrast, your twin (1) talks with 10 people—including an engineer, a musician, a stay-at-home dad, and a designer—about the venture, (2) visits three innovative start-ups to observe what they do, (3) samples five “new to the market” products, (4) shows a prototype he’s built to five people, and (5) asks the questions “What if I tried this?” and “Why do you do that?” at least 10 times each day during these networking, observing, and experimenting activities. Who do you bet will come up with the more innovative (and doable) idea?

Studies of identical twins separated at birth indicate that our ability to think creatively comes one-third from genetics; but two-thirds of the innovation skill set comes through learning—first understanding a given skill, then practicing it, experimenting, and ultimately gaining confidence in one’s capacity to create. Innovative entrepreneurs in our study acquired and honed their innovation skills precisely this way.

Let’s look at the skills in detail.

Discovery Skill 1: Associating

Associating, or the ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas from different fields, is central to the innovator’s DNA. Entrepreneur Frans Johansson described this phenomenon as the “Medici effect,” referring to the creative explosion in Florence when the Medici family brought together people from a wide range of disciplines—sculptors, scientists, poets, philosophers, painters, and architects. As these individuals connected, new ideas blossomed at the intersections of their respective fields, thereby spawning the Renaissance, one of the most inventive eras in history.

To grasp how associating works, it is important to understand how the brain operates. The brain doesn’t store information like a dictionary, where you can find the word “theater” under the letter “T.” Instead, it associates the word “theater” with any number of experiences from our lives. Some of these are logical (“West End” or “intermission”), while others may be less obvious (perhaps “anxiety,” from a botched performance in high school). The more diverse our experience and knowledge, the more connections the brain can make. Fresh inputs trigger new associations; for some, these lead to novel ideas. As Steve Jobs has frequently observed, “Creativity is connecting things.”

The world’s most innovative companies prosper by capitalizing on the divergent associations of their founders, executives, and employees. For example, Pierre Omidyar launched eBay in 1996 after linking three unconnected dots: (1) a fascination with creating more-efficient markets, after having been shut out from a hot internet company’s IPO in the mid-1990s; (2) his fiancée’s desire to locate hard-to-find collectible Pez dispensers; and (3) the ineffectiveness of local classified ads in locating such items. Likewise, Steve Jobs is able to generate idea after idea because he has spent a lifetime exploring new and unrelated things—the art of calligraphy, meditation practices in an Indian ashram, the fine details of a Mercedes-Benz.

Associating is like a mental muscle that can grow stronger by using the other discovery skills. As innovators engage in those behaviors, they build their ability to generate ideas that can be recombined in new ways. The more frequently people in our study attempted to understand, categorize, and store new knowledge, the more easily their brains could naturally and consistently make, store, and recombine associations.

Discovery Skill 2: Questioning

More than 50 years ago, Peter Drucker described the power of provocative questions. “The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question,” he wrote. Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge common wisdom or, as Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata puts it, “question the unquestionable.” Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, has worked directly with a number of innovative entrepreneurs, including the founders of eBay, PayPal, and Skype. “They get a kick out of screwing up the status quo,” she told us. “They can’t bear it. So they spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about how to change the world. And as they brainstorm, they like to ask: ‘If we did this, what would happen?’”

Most of the innovative entrepreneurs we interviewed could remember the specific questions they were asking at the time they had the inspiration for a new venture. Michael Dell, for instance, told us that his idea for founding Dell Computer sprang from his asking why a computer cost five times as much as the sum of its parts. “I would take computers apart…and would observe that $600 worth of parts were sold for $3,000.” In chewing over the question, he hit on his revolutionary business model.

To question effectively, innovative entrepreneurs do the following:

Ask “Why?” and “Why not?” and “What if?”

Most managers focus on understanding how to make existing processes—the status quo—work a little better (“How can we improve widget sales in Taiwan?”). Innovative entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are much more likely to challenge assumptions (“If we cut the size or weight of the widget in half, how would that change the value proposition it offers?”). Marc Benioff, the founder of the online sales software provider Salesforce.com, was full of questions after witnessing the emergence of Amazon and eBay, two companies built on services delivered via the internet. “Why are we still loading and upgrading software the way we’ve been doing all this time when we can now do it over the internet?” he wondered. This fundamental question was the genesis of Salesforce.com.

Imagine opposites.

In his book The Opposable Mind, Roger Martin writes that innovative thinkers have “the capacity to hold two diametrically opposing ideas in their heads.” He explains, “Without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other, they’re able to produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea.”

Innovative entrepreneurs like to play devil’s advocate. “My learning process has always been about disagreeing with what I’m being told and taking the opposite position, and pushing others to really justify themselves,” Pierre Omidyar told us. “I remember it was very frustrating for the other kids when I would do this.” Asking oneself, or others, to imagine a completely different alternative can lead to truly original insights.

Embrace constraints.

Most of us impose constraints on our thinking only when forced to deal with real-world limitations, such as resource allocations or technology restrictions. Ironically, great questions actively impose constraints on our thinking and serve as a catalyst for out-of-the-box insights. (In fact, one of Google’s nine innovation principles is “Creativity loves constraint.”) To initiate a creative discussion about growth opportunities, one innovative executive in our study asked this question: “What if we were legally prohibited from selling to our current customers? How would we make money next year?” This led to an insightful exploration of ways the company could find and serve new customers. Another innovative CEO prods his managers to examine sunk-cost constraints by asking, “What if you had not already hired this person, installed this equipment, implemented this process, bought this business, or pursued this strategy? Would you do the same thing you are doing today?”

Discovery Skill 3: Observing

Discovery-driven executives produce uncommon business ideas by scrutinizing common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers. In observing others, they act like anthropologists and social scientists.

Intuit founder Scott Cook hit on the idea for Quicken financial software after two key observations. First he watched his wife’s frustration as she struggled to keep track of their finances. “Often the surprises that lead to new business ideas come from watching other people work and live their normal lives,” Cook explained. “You see something and ask, ‘Why do they do that? That doesn’t make sense.’” Then a buddy got him a sneak peek at the Apple Lisa before it launched. Immediately after leaving Apple headquarters, Cook drove to the nearest restaurant to write down everything he had noticed about the Lisa. His observations prompted insights such as building the graphical user interface to look just like its real-world counterpart (a checkbook, for example), making it easy for people to use it. So Cook set about solving his wife’s problem and grabbed 50% of the market for financial software in the first year.

Innovators carefully, intentionally, and consistently look out for small behavioral details—in the activities of customers, suppliers, and other companies—in order to gain insights about new ways of doing things. Ratan Tata got the inspiration that led to the world’s cheapest car by observing the plight of a family of four packed onto a single motorized scooter. After years of product development, Tata Group launched in 2009 the $2,500 Nano using a modular production method that may disrupt the entire automobile distribution system in India. Observers try all sorts of techniques to see the world in a different light. Akio Toyoda regularly practices Toyota’s philosophy of genchi genbutsu—“going to the spot and seeing for yourself.” Frequent direct observation is baked into the Toyota culture.

Discovery Skill 4: Experimenting

When we think of experiments, we think of scientists in white coats or of great inventors like Thomas Edison. Like scientists, innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots. (As Edison said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve simply found 10,000 ways that do not work.”) The world is their laboratory. Unlike observers, who intensely watch the world, experimenters construct interactive experiences and try to provoke unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge.

The innovative entrepreneurs we interviewed all engaged in some form of active experimentation, whether it was intellectual exploration (Michael Lazaridis mulling over the theory of relativity in high school), physical tinkering (Jeff Bezos taking apart his crib as a toddler or Steve Jobs disassembling a Sony Walkman), or engagement in new surroundings (Starbucks founder Howard Shultz roaming Italy visiting coffee bars). As executives of innovative enterprises, they make experimentation central to everything they do. Bezos’s online bookstore didn’t stay where it was after its initial success; it morphed into an online discount retailer, selling a full line of products from toys to TVs to home appliances. The electronic reader Kindle is an experiment that is now transforming Amazon from an online retailer to an innovative electronics manufacturer. Bezos sees experimentation as so critical to innovation that he has institutionalized it at Amazon. “I encourage our employees to go down blind alleys and experiment,” Bezos says. “If we can get processes decentralized so that we can do a lot of experiments without it being very costly, we’ll get a lot more innovation.”

Scott Cook, too, stresses the importance of creating a culture that fosters experimentation. “Our culture opens us to allowing lots of failures while harvesting the learning,” he told us. “It’s what separates an innovation culture from a normal corporate culture.”

One of the most powerful experiments innovators can engage in is living and working overseas. Our research revealed that the more countries a person has lived in, the more likely he or she is to leverage that experience to deliver innovative products, processes, or businesses. In fact, if managers try out even one international assignment before becoming CEO, their companies deliver stronger financial results than companies run by CEOs without such experience—roughly 7% higher market performance on average, according to research by Gregeren, Mason A. Carpenter, and Gerard W. Sanders. P&G’s A.G. Lafley, for example, spent time as a student studying history in France and running retail operations on U.S. military bases in Japan. He returned to Japan later to head all of P&G’s Asia operations before becoming CEO. His diverse international experience has served him well as the leader of one of the most innovative companies in the world.

Discovery Skill 5: Networking

Devoting time and energy to finding and testing ideas through a network of diverse individuals gives innovators a radically different perspective. Unlike most executives—who network to access resources, to sell themselves or their companies, or to boost their careers—innovative entrepreneurs go out of their way to meet people with different kinds of ideas and perspectives to extend their own knowledge domains. To this end, they make a conscious effort to visit other countries and meet people from other walks of life.

They also attend idea conferences such as Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED), Davos, and the Aspen Ideas Festival. Such conferences draw together artists, entrepreneurs, academics, politicians, adventurers, scientists, and thinkers from all over the world, who come to present their newest ideas, passions, and projects. Michael Lazaridis, the founder of Research In Motion, notes that the inspiration for the original BlackBerry occurred at a conference in 1987. A speaker was describing a wireless data system that had been designed for Coke; it allowed vending machines to send a signal when they needed refilling. “That’s when it hit me,” Lazaridis recalls. “I remembered what my teacher said in high school: ‘Don’t get too caught up with computers because the person that puts wireless technology and computers together is going to make a big difference.’” David Neeleman came up with key ideas for JetBlue—such as satellite TV at every seat and at-home reservationists—through networking at conferences and elsewhere.

Kent Bowen, the founding scientist of CPS technologies (maker of an innovative ceramic composite), hung the following credo in every office of his start-up: “The insights required to solve many of our most challenging problems come from outside our industry and scientific field. We must aggressively and proudly incorporate into our work findings and advances which were not invented here.” Scientists from CPS have solved numerous complex problems by talking with people in other fields. One expert from Polaroid with in-depth knowledge of film technology knew how to make the ceramic composite stronger. Experts in sperm-freezing technology knew how to prevent ice crystal growth on cells during freezing, a technique that CPS applied to its manufacturing process with stunning success.

Practice, Practice, Practice

As innovators actively engage in the discovery skills, they become defined by them. They grow increasingly confident of their creative abilities. For A.G. Lafley, innovation is the central job of every leader, regardless of the place he or she occupies on the organizational chart. But what if you—like most executives—don’t see yourself or those on your team as particularly innovative?

Though innovative thinking may be innate to some, it can also be developed and strengthened through practice. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of rehearsing over and over the behaviors described above, to the point that they become automatic. This requires putting aside time for you and your team to actively cultivate more creative ideas.

The most important skill to practice is questioning. Asking “Why” and “Why not” can help turbocharge the other discovery skills. Ask questions that both impose and eliminate constraints; this will help you see a problem or opportunity from a different angle. Try spending 15 to 30 minutes each day writing down 10 new questions that challenge the status quo in your company or industry. “If I had a favorite question to ask, everyone would anticipate it,” Michael Dell told us. “Instead I like to ask things people don’t think I’m going to ask. This is a little cruel, but I kind of delight in coming up with questions that nobody has the answer to quite yet.”

To sharpen your own observational skills, watch how certain customers experience a product or service in their natural environment. Spend an entire day carefully observing the “jobs” that customers are trying to get done. Try not to make judgments about what you see: Simply pretend you’re a fly on the wall, and observe as neutrally as possible. Scott Cook advises Intuit’s observers to ask, “What’s different than you expected?” Follow Richard Branson’s example and get in the habit of note taking wherever you go. Or follow Jeff Bezos’s: “I take pictures of really bad innovations,” he told us, “of which there are a number.”

To strengthen experimentation, at both the individual and organizational levels, consciously approach work and life with a hypothesis-testing mind-set. Attend seminars or executive education courses on topics outside your area of expertise; take apart a product or process that interests you; read books that purport to identify emerging trends. When you travel, don’t squander the opportunity to learn about different lifestyles and local behavior. Develop new hypotheses from the knowledge you’ve acquired and test them in the search for new products or processes. Find ways to institutionalize frequent, small experiments at all levels of the organization. Openly acknowledging that learning through failure is valuable goes a long way toward building an innovative culture.

Try spending 15 to 30 minutes each day writing down questions that challenge the status quo in your company.

To improve your networking skills, contact the five most creative people you know and ask them to share what they do to stimulate creative thinking. You might also ask if they’d be willing to act as your creative mentors. We suggest holding regular idea lunches at which you meet a few new people from diverse functions, companies, industries, or countries. Get them to tell you about their innovative ideas and ask for feedback on yours.• • •

Innovative entrepreneurship is not a genetic predisposition, it is an active endeavor. Apple’s slogan “Think Different” is inspiring but incomplete. We found that innovators must consistently act different to think different. By understanding, reinforcing, and modeling the innovator’s DNA, companies can find ways to more successfully develop the creative spark in everyone.

A norm is any uniform attitude or action that two or more people share by virtue of their membership in a group. We experience our attitudes toward productivity as private and personal, as originating in our own thinking, experience, and motivation, and as unique to each of us. What we fail to realize is that our attitudes arise from the norms of the groups in which we hold memberships. As a result, group norms for productivity and our attitudes toward them regulate a greater part of our work effort or lack of it than we realize.

Norms are the most powerful silent catalyst in teams. They draw a line in the sand between being a member and being an outsider. Norms define a team’s culture and dictate what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable. Norms are not necessarily written in policy manuals, but every team member has a vivid understanding of them.

To get an understanding of your own team norms, imagine that you have been assigned to orient a new team member to routine team operations. Think about your team norms and all the issues you would have to cover with an outsider who knows nothing about your team. Some examples of statements that indicate norms are:

  • “I know the policy says that, but we do it this way.”
  • “Stay away from that person (or group). You don’t want to be associated too closely with them.”
  • “It may seem unusual, but that’s the way we do it.”
  • “Policy says these reports need to be done weekly, but we probably only do them once a month. No one pays any attention to them anyway.”
  • We conduct meetings like this…”

Norms are the silent and powerful forces that direct and guide behavior. They are not good or bad, but a simple fact of life. In other words, norms are like a landscape. Sound norms are the blossoms that enhance team performance. Unsound norms are weeds that, when left unchecked, hinder team performance. Given that, teams and leaders need to understand how to create sound norms or change existing unsound norms into ones that inspire excellence in teamwork and performance.

Norms are the building blocks for a company’s culture. To illustrate how norms work to shape a culture, picture two aquariums side by side. Both aquariums look identical from the outside. They seem to have the same variety of fish, plants, water, food, etc. When you look closer, however, one aquarium has the perfect number of fish, the ideal amount of food, and the best balance of plant life, along with the right temperature and light. The aquarium has a healthy culture. The fish and plant life thrive with energy and health.

The other aquarium appears the same from the outside but its temperature is off by a couple of degrees. The plant life is a little out of balance. There are a few too many fish, and not quite enough food. The aquarium has an unhealthy culture. The fish and plant life struggle to survive.

If you take a fish from the unhealthy aquarium and put it into the healthy aquarium, the fish will begin to improve and, over time, become invigorated with new, vibrant energy and color. Conversely, if you take a fish from the healthy aquarium and put it into the unhealthy aquarium, that fish begins to adapt to the conditions of the unhealthy environment. Colors fade, it becomes sluggish and disoriented.

Now picture a row of corporate office buildings, all looking strong, powerful, and healthy from the outside. The same principle applies as with the aquarium when introducing new people into an established culture.

Group Dynamics: How Norms Form

Leaders are the captives of their cultures. Choices remain unseen because those responsible for change are surrounded by the mirrors of the very culture they have created.
– Drs. Robert R. Blake and Jane S. Mouton

Group dynamics can make or break a change effort. They are the silent drivers and primary source for change that either encourage or impede momentum. Norms develop through three basic laws of human behavior demonstrated through relationships, teams, and organizations:

  1. Convergence
  2. Cohesion
  3. Conformity

In the same way that comprehending the law of gravity helps to understand the behavior of objects, comprehending the basic laws of group dynamics helps in understanding the power of norms and their influence on behavior and performance. Moreover, there is a natural source of power in these dynamics that a skilled and knowledgeable team can harness for maximum effectiveness.

People think of values and attitudes as private, personal, and unique, but research shows that most personal attitudes arise from group norms. As a result, team attitudes determine the quality of individual work effort more than most people realize. The norms of a group are reflected in its traditions, precedents, habits, rites, rules, rituals, regulations, policies, operating procedures, customs, taboos, and past practices. These norms begin forming through a process known as convergence.

Convergence

Convergence initiates norms spontaneously by shifting individual attitudes or patterns of behavior toward a uniform group pattern that every member shares. Few social pressures are more important for understanding change than the human tendency to converge around a common idea in a group setting. For example: a team has several members, each of whom starts out a planning meeting with an opinion regarding how much productivity is “enough.” One person thinks fifteen “units” per day is adequate, another recommends only five, while other members suggest thirteen, nine, or eight, etc. As people work together and exchange ideas, the opinions expressed lead to a shift in attitudes around a more uniform norm. Research has shown that this common dilemma is almost always resolved by a common convergence to the middle position. In the illustration, the agreed-upon productivity benchmark becomes ten, or close to ten.

Cohesion

Cohesion is the phenomenon by which people in groups congregate around common interests and values. People prefer to associate with other people like them and by whom they are liked. Cohesion is one of the most significant forces for social organization. People are naturally drawn to others who share a common experience that allows them to bypass the formalities they follow with outsiders. Examples of cohesion surface in every aspect of life as people tend to gravitate toward and give preference to others who share common interests or experiences. This preference may follow the lines of race, gender, religion, politics, socioeconomic status, or education. In organization life, other dimensions apply, such as years of service, position, level of training, or common work experience.

Cohesion is the emotional attraction people feel toward one another, and as such it accelerates the development of norms. On a social basis, we call this “bonding.” When cohesion is strong, people relate to each other with a stronger sense of trust, confidence, and commitment. They embrace the norms with pride because the shared experience feels comfortable and right. Cohesion is demonstrated in comments like, “We’ll do whatever it takes to make this happen.”

Conformity

Once a norm is established, conformity is the natural force that influences group members to maintain that norm. Conformity enforces the norm by creating pressure, often subtly, to “fall in line” with the group in reinforcing the norm. Conformity happens every time a co-worker says, “I know it’s a little unusual, but we don’t use a formal agenda for these meetings,” or “You’re coming across too strong in meetings. We like to keep these meetings relaxed and spontaneous.” The message, whether given by a gesture, comment, or outright directive, is “You need to change your behavior to fit in.” The price of non-conformity is rejection.

The Impact of Norms on the Organization and Team

Only through a never-ending effort to override the automatic behavior of the past could a change in relationships even be a remote possibility.
– Dr. Robert R. Blake

Once the dynamics are understood, the key question for every organization is “Are we conforming to norms that help us or hinder us?” In the same way that individuals can become aware of individual behavior and its impact on others, teams and entire organizations can become aware of their norms and the impact on results.

Like norms themselves, the laws of convergence, cohesion, and conformity are neither good nor bad, but are dynamics that simply happen. The influence they wield can bring power to an organization that chooses to understand and lead these norms. Left alone, they can evolve into norms that may devastate a company’s fortunes because leaders are looking elsewhere (the economy, government, or competition) for causes of poor performance. Like other natural laws, group dynamics operate 24 hours a day, rain or shine, profit or loss, in every organization. Ineffective norms have a way of creeping up unnoticed like weeds in a garden, hampering an organization’s efforts to change. To avoid this, successful organizations prevent the weeds from growing by constantly challenging unsound norms and continually reinforcing sound ones.

In Good to Great, Jim Collins compares the executive culture of two steel industry companies, Bethlehem Steel and Nucor. Both companies faced devastating setbacks in the 1980s due to a recession and the competitive challenge of cheap, imported steel. Bethlehem Steel reacted with deep cuts throughout the organization, while at the same time constructing a 21-story office building to house its executive staff. At extra expense, it designed the building in the shape of a cross in order to accommodate the large number of vice presidents who needed corner offices. Other norms for executives included using the corporate jets for weekend getaways. There were also executive golf memberships, and rank even determined shower priority at these clubs. Collins says, “Bethlehem did not decline in the 1970s and 1980s primarily because of imports or technology—Bethlehem declined first and foremost because it was a culture wherein people focused their efforts on negotiating the nuances of an intricate social hierarchy, not on customers, competitors, or changes in the external world.” Unsound norms were so strong as to manage the organization instead of the organization managing its norms.

At the other side of the spectrum was Nucor, which at the same time “took extraordinary steps to keep at bay the class distinctions that eventually encroach on most organizations.” Facing the same industry conditions, executives did not receive better benefits than front-line workers. In fact, executives had fewer perks. For example, all workers (but not executives) were eligible to receive $2,000 per year per child for up to four years of post-high school education. When Nucor had a profitable year, everyone in the company benefited. When Nucor faced tough times, everyone from the top to the bottom suffered. But people from the top suffered more. In a recent recession, for example, worker pay went down 25 percent, officer pay went down 50 percent, and the CEO’s pay went down 75 percent.

Companies that never challenge unsound norms or reinforce sound norms can find themselves at a severe disadvantage when trying to compete. A simple norm like executive perks may seem minor, but it communicates a powerful message to non-executives throughout an organization that undermines commitment and a sense of personal stake.

Changing Norms

It is only when we examine the extent to which personal attitudes, thoughts, and feelings are shared with primary group members that the regulating effect of informal norms and standards become clearly visible.
– Drs. Robert R. Blake and Jane S. Mouton

A chaos of conflicting, reluctant, and confused responses develops every time a change is introduced. This chaos creates the first stage of convergence and conformity. This stage provides teams with a critical opportunity to influence change because within the confusion lies valuable potential for leadership, creativity, and standards of excellence. This is where the “how much is enough” question is being asked and tested, when norms are in their early stages. At this pivotal point, when the group is beginning to form new norms, a leader’s style can influence how the group converges.

It is essential for leaders to be aware that these three valuable sources of energy—convergence, cohesion, and conformity—exist during periods of change. Learning how to harness them productively makes the difference between developing sound or unsound norms. There is little as demotivating to people as leadership that continues to ignore obvious realities and continues with ineffective strategies because it cannot or will not face reality.

In Good to Great, Jim Collins described the following quality as being a key factor in all “Good to Great” companies:

“On the one hand, they (‘good to great’ companies) stoically accepted the brutal facts of reality. On the other hand, they maintained an unwavering faith in the endgame, and a commitment to prevail as a great company despite the brutal facts.”

Companies that succeed in staying on the cutting edge of competition all have one thing in common: they question everything and constantly challenge norms so that complacency never sets in. Unless they are challenged, norms can become outmoded, ineffective, and deeply entrenched in the culture. When this occurs, companies perpetuate unsound practices because “That’s the way we do it around here,” even when better ways are available.

Setting Soundest Norms for Team Development

Teams establish sound norms by examining the effectiveness of existing norms. Conditions required for setting sound team standards include:

Involvement: Those who will be guided by the standards participate in establishing them.

Clarity: The standards are realistic and clearly defined.

Challenge: The standards inspire and motivate team members to achieve new levels of performance. If they do not challenge people, business will simply continue as usual and the standard-setting exercise will have been in vain.

Understanding: Every team member fully understands the meaning of each standard.

Commitment: Team members resolve to perform by the standards they set for themselves.

Excellence: Team members agree on what constitutes excellent performance and adopt standards to foster such excellence.

At Grid International, we work with clients to help them maximize their human capital. Every strategy is different and every challenge unique, but the patterns of group dynamics and culture are universal and absolutely critical for gaining a performance edge. Having a clear understanding of the group dynamics of culture and how they work is essential for mobilizing both small and large groups of people. All change efforts must begin by understanding the existing culture and how to manage and maximize this invaluable resource. We give clients the power to develop cultures that constantly reinforce standards of excellence.

 

 

 

Will technology kill jobs and exacerbate inequality, or usher in a utopia of more meaningful work and healthier societies?

While it is impossible to know what tomorrow holds, research by global professional services company PwC explores four possible futures – or “worlds” – driven by the “mega trends” of technological breakthroughs, rapid urbanization, ageing populations, shifting global economic power, resource scarcity and climate change.

The Red World – innovation rules

The world becomes a perfect incubator for innovation in one PwC scenario. Digital platforms enable those with winning ideas and specialist, niche profit-makers, to flourish.

However, PwC warns, the risks are high if innovation outpaces regulation. “Today’s winning business could be tomorrow’s court case.”

Projects will develop at a fast pace and specialists will only stay with them as long as they, or the business, last. There will be few in-house human resources teams, with outsourcers or automation providing the human services needed.

Companies may see little regulation that prevents them doing what they like, while workers will enjoy fewer benefits like health insurance, pensions and long-term employment.

The Blue World – corporate is king

Corporations grow so big and influential that some become more powerful and larger than national economies.

In a frightening vision, almost worthy of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, PwC predicts: “Human effort [will be] maximized through … physical and medical enhancement techniques and technology and, along with automation, analytics and innovation, push performance in the workplace to its limits.”

While rewards for some will be high, the price will be people’s data, which will “predict performance and anticipate people risk [predict behaviour that may damage a business financially or reputationally]”.

In both the Blue and Red Worlds, people who have strong skills – and update them – will be in demand, those who do not will be discarded.

The Green World – companies care

“This is a world where corporate responsibility isn’t just a nice-to-have, but it’s a business imperative,” PwC says.

A strong social ethos places a heavy emphasis on diversity, human rights and the non-financial impacts of business on the planet and people’s lives.

Competition for talent is intense and financial rewards are still important, while incentive packages include “three weeks’ paid leave a year to work on charity and social projects”.

However, workers are expected to reflect their employers’ values at work and at home and travel is tightly controlled.

“In this world,” the writers say, “automation and technology are essential elements to protect scarce resources and minimize environmental damage … But … technology is a double-edged sword: it allows organizations to meet their ethical and environmental agenda, but at what cost to humans?”

The Yellow World – humans come first

Financial technology enables more crowd-funded capital to reach ethically “blameless” brands, while workers and companies seek greater meaning and relevance in everyday life.

Artisanal skills return, as do workers’ guilds, which protect members’ rights and train new craftspeople: “It’s a world where humanness is highly valued,” says PwC.

Non-financial rewards are given in a trade-off for less money, work is often a fluid concept and the standard 9-to-5 working week is rare, while the divisions between home and work blur.

 

However, while the automation of tasks that are dull, damaging or impossible for humans continues, the writers say: “Conflicts remain around the use of technology, as people are less likely to take the downsides of automation without a fight.

“As more people are impacted by technical advances and see their skills become obsolete, disaffection and the push-back against policies that favour the elite grow.”

Which way to the future?

All of the four possible futures in PwC’s report share the common theme of increasing use of technology to assist, augment and replace human work.

Some foresee the dominance of global corporations, others predict the growth of smaller, more individual endeavours. All, however, depend on digital technology to link talent pools and customers, and create financially beneficial relationships, whether these are between individuals and corporations, or groups of people.

“By replacing workers doing routine, methodical tasks, machines can amplify the comparative advantage of those workers with problem-solving, leadership, emotional intelligence, empathy and creativity skills,” PwC says.

“Those workers performing tasks which automation can’t yet crack become more pivotal – and this means creativity, innovation, imagination and design skills will be prioritized by employers.”

Changing lanes

Any of these futures – or a combination of them – are possible, but how we reach 2030, and who will benefit, needs careful planning and consideration.

In the film Escape from the Planet of the Apes, a scientist compares reaching the future to a driver changing lanes: “A driver in lane ‘A’ may crash while a driver in lane ‘B’ survives. It follows that a driver, by changing lanes can change his future.”

Working out which lane will lead to a less fractured world is one of the greatest challenges facing policy makers and corporate leaders today.

Have you read?

Vivimos en una era de las emociones, con todo su matiz y profundidad. Todos tenemos un cerebro que ayuda a hacer que las cosas sucedan, o no. Si las compañías invierten tiempo, esfuerzo y recursos en interpretar sus señales, en estimularlo, cuidarlo y acompañar el equilibrio que se necesita para que crezca sano y fuerte, su neuroplasticidad se convierte en la clave para el desarrollo.

El principal órgano del cuerpo humano también rige el cerebro emocional. Se trata de esta parte tan necesaria para dar significado, propósito, entendimiento, y para sobrevivir en condiciones ambientales tan cambiantes y turbulentas como las que se presentan diariamente. Por eso, la era de la innovación está regida por el cerebro emocional; el universo de las personas no se centra ya en lo mental y puramente técnico, sino que, si las compañías logran encauzar positivamente los aportes individuales, tienen más oportunidades de transformarse y reinventar.

¿Qué es la innovación emocional?

En cualquier toma de decisiones ya sea en el plano personal, y dentro del Alma que tienen todas las empresas (por más “desalmadas” que parezcan), las emociones juegan un papel preponderante. Se puede tener toda la tecnología del mundo, los recursos de dinero infinitos, la llegada a todo el universo. Sin embargo, si no se tiene la voluntad de cada colaborador alineado con el espíritu creador y hacedor, el camino será corto e irremediablemente, escaso de proyección.

La toma de decisiones en todos los niveles de una empresa no se basa sólo en los parámetros lógicos que eran dominantes hasta hace pocos años. Se sabe que más del 80% de las decisiones en las empresas se mueven alrededor del universo emocional de los líderes, sus equipos, y, en cascada, todos los colaboradores.

La ausencia de decisiones es en sí misma una política empresaria, porque la “no decisión” es una elección, aunque no lo parezca. Así, las empresas que demoran en transformarse pierden valiosas oportunidades e inevitablemente, estarán rezagadas en el mundo global del que forman parte.

Hay organizaciones en terapia intensiva, encabezadas por personas que se creen líderes, cuando son, en el mejor de los casos, meros jefes. Hay empresas agonizantes, deseosas de una mano salvadora externa. Sin embargo, no han tomado consciencia aún de que el único salvataje posible proviene desde adentro.

Hay compañías en todo el mundo que están siendo transfundidas, como si eso fuese a resolver sus problemas. Si no se tratan los males que las aquejan de raíz, volverán a aparecer en corto tiempo. Por increíble que parezca, el principal motor del cambio y combustible para la transformación que evite la muerte empresarial está arriba de todo, en cada integrante de esas empresas que han perdido su alma, su propósito, y su ser. Se llama cerebro y pesa menos de un kilo y medio.

 

¿Cómo implementar la innovación emocional?

La innovación emocional requiere del abordaje en simultáneo de 10 planos: cuerpo, mente, cerebro, espíritu, creencias, paradigmas, resiliencia, entornos, evolución y propósito. De su correcto articulado resultará la transformación y trascendencia, capaz de atravesar cualquier desafío externo.  Aquí comparto algunos rasgos de mi modelo de innovación emocional que ya están implementándose en muchas compañías que se centran en el cuidado de los recursos humanos.

 

  1. Date tiempo para reflexionar más allá de tener objetivos de negocio basados en obtener resultados. Es necesario escuchar, dialogar, poner las conversaciones en primer plano, aprender a disentir con respeto y coherencia. Fluir, entender y cooperar.
  2. Entrena tu cerebro, coopera en desarrollar espacios de reflexión, pausas conscientes para recalcular las acciones diarias, y retomar con mayor impulso. El cerebro de casi todos los seres humanos está sobre estimulado. Es necesario bajar su frecuencia si se necesita tomar mejores decisiones. A más información a procesar, más complejos son los procesos, y si no se le encuentra sentido, como el cerebro se especializa en ahorrar recursos al producir resultados, no “prestará toda su colaboración”.
  3. El psicólogo israelita Daniel Kahneman, ganador del Nobel de Economía, afirma que el cerebro utiliza un tipo de sistemas automáticos o intuitivos, que no dependen de la voluntad; y se deja engañar con “efectos halo”, que son los que se producen cuando hay generalizaciones excesivas, procesos que se repiten o simplificaciones sin sentido. Entonces, las compañías que lleven adelante Innovación Emocional necesitan manejar cautelosamente el flujo de información, dar el tiempo necesario para procesarla en una mezcla de racionalidad con intuición, y espacios de creatividad para que puedan aflorar las transformaciones apropiadas. Como se ve, esto es diametralmente opuesto a lo que vienen haciendo casi todas las empresas del mundo.
  4. La innovación emocional es compleja de gestionar. Si ya los procesos racionales son difíciles, se necesita entrenarse en áreas blandas para lograr la mayor satisfacción personal de los colaboradores, para, luego, hacerlas confluir en dinámicas de equipo en la empresa. Como el cerebro selecciona lo que queremos escuchar y prioriza en base a aquello que nos es más familiar, hay que estimular los neurotransmisores para que dejen de premiar el autoengaño de seguir en el camino de siempre, y que abran los puentes de la transformación.
  5. Dejar la seguridad de los hábitos. Mantener ciertas rutinas productivas es saludable siempre que se obtengan los resultados innovadores. Sin embargo, es de necios mantenerla si estamos fracasando. Hay un efecto del cerebro como carcelero de los deseos de un futuro mejor, que proviene de las percepciones limitadas. El cerebro responde exactamente a lo que le ordenemos. Entonces, si ordenamos de acuerdo a viejos esquemas mentales, eso es lo que resultará. La innovación emocional se basa en sacudir estos esquemas.

 

  1. La innovación emocional requiere del acompañamiento de profesionales expertos para ayudar a conducir esta energía nueva a un buen puerto.
  2. Es ilógico que las empresas luchen contra las emociones de sus colaboradores, que, a su vez, determina su propia emocionalidad corporativa. Hay que aprovechar esas emociones como palanca para crear nuevos modelos de toma de decisiones adaptadas al presente y a la innovación que se persigue.

Finalmente, valores como la escucha atenta, la asertividad, empatía, bondad, sentido de pertenencia genuino, comunicación abierta y receptiva y el entendimiento, son esenciales para articular esta Innovación Emocional que viene a contribuir con la evolución de todo lo conocido para situarnos en un nuevo estadío de las cosas: ni mejor ni peor que antes. Simplemente, distinto.

Cada uno de nosotros creemos tener una idea sobre lo que significa ser un buen líder, pero a la hora de definir el concepto, la cosa no está tan clara. Para algunos el liderazgo es motivación, para otros es sinónimo de resultados, para otros, inspiración.

Sea como sea, podemos definir el liderazgo basándonos en unos elementos comunes con los que todos coincidimos. Estas son las 10 maneras de definir el arte de liderar:

1. Visión

Liderar implica tener una visión y compartirla con los demás. Sólo cuando se consigue inspirar a los demás, se logra compartir una meta común hacia la que dirigir los esfuerzos y dedicación de todo el equipo. ¿Cuál es tu visión?

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2. Motivación

El líder sabe motivar como nadie, es una de sus principales funciones como gestor de personas. A través de la motivación, el líder canaliza la energía y el potencial profesional de sus compañeros, con el fin de conseguir los objetivos.

3. Servir

El líder está al servicio del equipo, y no al revés. Los miembros del grupo deben contar y sentir el apoyo de su líder, tener al alcance las herramientas necesarias para desempeñar su trabajo de forma adecuada, ver reconocidos sus esfuerzos y saber que hay una persona atenta para corregir los malos hábitos. Todo eso forma parte de un liderazgo que sirve a su equipo, y no al revés.

4. Empatía

Una de las cualidades básicas en todo líder que se preste al éxito es precisamente la inteligencia emocional, esa capacidad -a menudo innata- que tienen los líderes para ponerse en el lugar de los demás, comprender sus preocupaciones y dar solución a los problemas. Los líderes conocen los secretos de su negocio y por eso pueden mostrar empatía con los clientes y con los miembros de su equipo: esa empatía consigue inspirar y establecer lazos que conducen al éxito.

5. Creatividad

La definición de liderazgo también tiene que ver con la creatividad. Los buenos líderes son capaces de crear un entorno que anime a todos los miembros de su equipo a desarrollar sus habilidades y su imaginación, de manera que contribuyan con su sello personal al proyecto cómun y la visión de la empresa. Si quieres liderar con éxito, respeta la creatividad de los demás y aprende de la gente que te rodea, seguro que sus ideas suman en lugar de restar.

6. Exigencia

Un buen líder pone el listón muy alto a los suyos, porque quiere lograr los objetivos y sacar lo mejor de su equipo. Solamente un líder exigente logrará grandes resultados. Además de esa exigencia, el líder tiene que saber escuchar, para conocer las necesidades de sus compañeros y poder después ofrecerles el tiempo y los recursos necesarios para que hagan bien su trabajo y, por tanto, cumplan con lo que se les exige.

7. Dirigir

El líder debe estar al frente para dirigir y servir de guía a su equipo durante todo el proceso hasta que se cumple el objetivo marcado. Pero además de esa “avanzadilla”, los líderes también saben cuándo dar un paso atrás para que sea su equipo quien tome la iniciativa, de esta forma logra brindar a su equipo la oportunidad de desarrollarse personal y profesionalmente. La gestión pura se centra en las tareas, el liderazgo auténtico, en las personas.

8. Hacer equipo

El verdadero liderazgo busca trabajar en equipo para alcanzar un objetivo común. La gestión de personas es una de las tareas más difíciles a las que se enfrentan los líderes. Gracias a la actitud positiva imprescindible en los buenos líderes, y a la confianza que éstos depositan en sus compañeros, las personas obtienen mejores resultados. Los líderes con conciencia de equipo saben asumir la responsabilidad cuando algo no va bien, y recompensar al grupo tras un trabajo bien hecho.

 

9. Asumir riesgos

El líder es el encargado de asumir riesgos que los demás no están dispuestos a asumir. Es quien tiene la confianza suficiente para tomar una decisión, y si se equivoca, el líder debe tener el coraje suficiente para rectificar, asumir su culpa y tomar el camino correcto, sin culpabilizar al equipo. Los buenos líderes saben adelantarse a su tiempo, ven oportunidades donde otros no las ven y saben contagiar la ilusión por su visión para tratar de hacerla realidad.

10. Mejorar

El verdadero liderazgo busca la mejora continua. Los líderes tienen la capacidad de convertir a los individuos de su equipo en estrellas, personas que han mejorado sus capacidades y han logrado desarrollar habilidades gracias a la influencia de su líder.

En resumen, la definición de liderazgo no tiene que ver con la jerarquía ni la posicion de nadie en la empresa, no tiene que ver con imponer opiniones sino con escuchar a los que saben. El liderazgo es la actitud que asumen aquellas personas que buscan algo diferente, que están comprometidas a lograr un objetivo y cuya convicción logran transmitir a los demás a través de la ilusión y el optimismo, para lograr un objetivo común.

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