Thursday, 17 September 2015

What a good idea!

One of the best phrases I’ve come across recently on my travels in the world of business is the expression “ideas are everywhere”.

 I know it’s the most pathetically simple form of words you’ve seen for a considerable time but at the same time it’s a very powerful expression when used well. The key, I suspect, is in how you use it and how you bring yourself to treat it seriously. It’s easy to scoff and pour scorn on concepts and initiatives but in considering that view we may have stumbled on the reason why many great ideas simply don’t see the light of day!

I use the expression almost every day either in my own head or when working with clients. For me it acts very much as a prompt and as a way of levelling the ideas playing field, so to speak. Wherever the idea comes from, it is valid and potentially game-changing in its significance. Wherever the idea comes from, it is to be encouraged as there be more where that came from. Wherever the idea came from, it is to be encouraged as the source of the idea may be someone you could collaborate with in your business.

So you see, there is considerable potential value contained in those three simple words. When you think about it closely it becomes fairly obvious but at the same time remains easy to forget in the heat of battle.

Although it’s probably a good idea to act on concepts like these instinctively and almost adopt them as a mantra, it’s equally valid to engineer idea-producing circumstances.  To most people that will probably mean mind-mapping or brain-storming in an office with sticky notes plastered all over the walls or flip-chart. But why go for the business school option every time?

A brilliant way to generate ideas is to work with a colleague who is outside your normal circle of influence. Be brave enough to do something different and you will get out of the rut of established relationship paths. You will set up opportunities for different kinds of ideas to flourish out of the sparks generated by the adjustments and accommodations you will both be making.

The work you do together doesn’t have to be a big deal – in fact this often works better when the job in hand is relatively insignificant and the rapport building/accidental idea generation can occur naturally. A common place for this to take place is in a shared journey to a client for example. Exploring a new relationship side by side with no set agenda leads to a feeling of mutual support and the sudden lack of pressure can lead to a release of ideas which have probably been under the surface for some time.

Ideas are too valuable to be kept locked up – let’s see if we can find a few more and maybe help others to find some too!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Unlocking talent

People are the most important asset in any business – we’ve heard it a million times but does that fact stop it from being true? Not in my opinion and still-increasing experience.

I’ve been lucky enough to share some significant milestones recently with a number of clients. When I pause to reflect on their achievements and successes, I always put the end result down to people. People, people, and people – it’s as simple as that.

The bedrock of any successful business will always be the people who tend to get overlooked and even taken for granted. They are the ones who work tirelessly, day in day out and simply get the job done without any drama or fuss.

I am fortunate to have a lot to do with people of this sort as well as the people at the “top of the tree” and I have come to know the type well. They are indisputably the ones who do the heavy lifting when a business puts in serious effort to buck trends, beat competitors and smash through demanding growth targets.

 So, when business leaders review their talent pool in readiness for a big push in a new direction, I would suggest looking at everyone in the company and not just the “stars”. Where can you truly unlock talent and gain that vital competitive advantage to enable you to soar?

My answer would be you will find talent to unlock in the most unlikely of places but you may need to put if effort simply to see it.  Unassuming people don’t live their lives to showcase their talent and may not show up on your radar. You won’t know if someone is possessed of a game-changing positive attitude unless you get to know them better and ask questions to reveal what’s below the surface.

Time may be required for the true potential to reveal itself and that process needs patience, an open-minded approach and an encouraging style. These are management practices which in themselves can be difficult to pull off but which certainly will be beneficial to any business looking to improve and grow.

This kind of approach can be very liberating for both sides as the increased knowledge and awareness leads to more opportunities to exploit and experiences to share. The increase in self-confidence which comes about when someone realises what they are capable of can be significant.

So, if you’re a manager with employees, why not spread your net a little wider, look at people from a different angle and dig a little deeper. You may be surprised what talent is right under your nose and has been for years!