Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don't Let Them Drink the Kool-Aid

As I explained in my most recent blog post, The Next Big Thing, innovation can be the key to an organization’s staying power. The ability to create and implement a new idea, product or strategy is incredibly powerful and exciting. Of course, there are other significant benefits to being innovative as well—the cost savings, opportunity for growth, the ability to help others and a competitive advantage. But innovation is not always easy and it comes with some challenges—the pressure it puts on a company, the ways in which it stretches resources, etc. And so the best way to face innovation head on and chart a course for success, is to be—as with anything—prepared.

Like when preparing for any new undertaking, it is critical to evaluate your team. You must ask yourself: “Do I have the right people in place to help me get the job done. Do I have people with the creative capacity to execute the plan?”

Making sure you have the right team in place is never more critical than when implementing a new innovative program, product or strategy. But what comprises the “right team” is not necessarily what you might think. You don’t want to fill your team with those who, when you begin to discuss a potential new idea, jump up and shout “Yes! Let’s do it.” You don’t want those who don’t think outside the box or take ample time to contemplate the impact of innovation. You don’t want people who are simply wearing the t-shirt or who have drunk the Kool-Aid.

True innovation, I believe, comes from questioning—questioning assumptions, capacity and ability. And so, to get to the point of true innovation within your company, you need those people on board who are going to think outside the box, look at the opportunity from every angle and help not only decide if the next big thing is the right thing but the best way to help the team get there and succeed together.

I have an amazing senior leadership team, full of engaged individuals with whom I can have frank discussions. These are individuals who are not afraid to always ask the tough questions and challenge my assumptions. They look at every decision and every opportunity with a full 360-degree perspective and are always thinking about new ways to maximize our impact as an organization.  I am always grateful for their candor, the level of thought and commitment they put into every decision and their steadfast commitment to JMC. I know that their input and our conversations makes me a better leader and Jupiter Medical Center a stronger organization.

And so, when you are taking stock of your team to prepare for innovation, you need to ask yourself, are you coaching up to encourage your managers to feel that they have the ability to speak their mind in a thoughtful way? Do you have frank discussions at your senior leadership tables where you provide a space for open, honest conversation without worry of retribution? Do you have people who dissect every opportunity and can embrace change after thoughtful conversation?

If the answer to these questions are yes, then you are well on your way to laying the groundwork for successful implementation of a new strategy or idea. If not, you have to think about how you can help team members develop the proper skills and get them to the point at which they need to be in help the organization and the team succeed.  Moving an organization forward and being truly innovative only comes when there are the right people in place to get the job done.

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