Buzzword for 2018: Innovation (Stop trying to shut it down...)

Buzzword for 2018: Innovation (Stop trying to shut it down...)

With New Year’s resolutions in full swing – or completely forgotten about – I thought this was a great way to start the new year. New Year/New Ideas/New You??

I came across an article recently that got my wheels turning. It is such a contradiction to corporate vocabulary as we know it, that I felt it was necessary to share – along with my two cents. The article recently published online for Fast Company is titled, “These Three Phrases Are Killing Innovation At Your Workplace”.

If you didn’t see the article, you will be surprised to learn that the number one phrase killing your Innovation is “BEST PRACTICES”. How many times a day do you talk about or think about or bring up in a meeting…Best Practices? Maybe it takes the form of Standard Operating Procedures. Either way – you are stifling up to the minute creativity. I assume that you all have BP or SOP in place, but when were they set up? How long and how many meetings did it take to create your BP or SOP? The truth is that by the time you set them in place, they were probably already out dated.

In my own experience, I have always heard and/or assumed that in a business environment it is a Best Practice to use an HP or Dell computer with a windows-based platform. “Mac is not good for day to day business operations”. At some point, this was probably a true statement. However, standing in Best Buy one day (having to replace my HP that had a terminal virus), I asked the Best Buy SME about this BP that I had heard so much about. She proceeded to advise me of all the reasons this used to be the case, but no longer was. I was feeling rebellious that day and purchased the Mac. I have never been so pleased with a purchase. How could it not be a Best Practice to link my phone, my iPad and my computer so that I can do the same work on all 3 devices?

So, with that being said, I am not telling you that BP or SOP are incorrect or will lead to the demise of your company, I would just suggest that there will always be room for additional BP to be put in place or updated or flat-out changed. Let your teams know that not only are you open to new ideas, but they are essential to keep up with the daily changes to the corporate world.

I typically break out in a sweat when I even hear the next item in the article. However, I know that many of you – especially those of you in Finance – not only love this, but it may be your first response when your team comes to you with ideas, aka innovation. “RETURN ON INVESTMENT”. For every one of you that believes it is necessary to know the ROI before going into a new project, remember there at least 2, 3, 10 etc of us that are not bringing you our creative and innovative ideas specifically because the thought of having to give the ROI with it is wreaking havoc with our brains!!

In the article, Fast Company told a story about Google and Yahoo… “Nine months in, the founders of Google tried to sell Google to Yahoo for a million dollars. Yahoo ran their numbers and determined it wasn’t worth it. Neither the founders nor the leading search engine of the time had a clue of Google’s ROI.” Innovation is impossible to put a price tag on because 9 times out of 10 it hasn’t been done before. But without innovation, how can you expect to grow and prosper?

In the article, the third phrase is “When I used to work for…”. However, I am not going to expand on that one because I believe it is self-explanatory and wrong on more levels than inhibiting innovation. Instead, I am choosing a phrase I am sure you hear or say daily… IT IS WHAT IT IS. In my pre-McHenry Consulting life, I was a Corporate Trainer and one of the trainings that I did was “Killer Phrases”. We presented 70 killer phrases that could de-rail morale or momentum in the workplace. We purposely left off “It is what it is” and then at the end of the training asked for additional phrases. This phrase was added 90% of the time. It would seem odd that such an everyday phrase would be considered an innovation killer. But, think about when you use it. Isn’t it always at the end of a conversation – when no solution is in sight? In that context, it immediately cuts off any further innovation. Bam!!!

Just a few ideas to add to your toolbox as we go into 2018, where one of the top buzzwords Corporate America is “Innovation” and especially in the PEO Industry. From our seats at McHenry, we see it and hear it every day – “…how can we improve sales, technology, productivity, etc.” Here’s hoping that these ideas can start some brainstorming in your office and with your team.

Best of luck to you all for a happy and prosperous New Year!!