Tag Archives: disruption

Making Innovation the Way We Do Business (easy as ABC)

Making Innovation the Way We Do Business (easy as ABC)

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

“We need to be more innovative.”

How many times have you said or heard that? It’s how most innovation efforts start. It’s a statement that reflects leaders’ genuine desire to return to the “good ol’ days” when the company routinely created and launched new products and enjoyed the publicity and growth that followed.

But what does it mean to be more innovative?

Innovation’s ABCs

A is for Architecture

Architecture includes most of the elements people think of when they start the work to become more innovative – strategy, structure, processes, metrics, governance, and incentives.

Each of these elements answers fundamental questions:

  • Strategy: Why is innovation important? How does it contribute to our overall strategy?
  • Structure: Who does the work of innovation?
  • Process: How is the work done?
  • Metrics: How will we know when we’re successful? How will we measure progress?
  • Governance: Who makes decisions? How and when are decisions made?
  • Incentives: Why should people invest their time, money, and political capital? How will they be rewarded?

When it comes to your business, you can answer all these questions. The same is true if you’re serious about innovation. If you can’t answer the questions, you have work to do. If you don’t want to do the work, then you don’t want to be innovative. You want to look innovative*.

B is for Behavior

Innovation isn’t an idea problem. It’s a leadership problem.

Leaders that talk about innovation, delegate it to subordinates and routinely pull resources from innovation to “shore up” current operations don’t want to be innovative. They want to look innovative.

Leaders who roll up their sleeves and work alongside innovation teams, ask questions and listen with open minds, and invest and protect innovation resources want to be innovative.

To be fair, it’s incredibly challenging to be a great leader of both innovation and operations. It’s the equivalent of writing equally well with your right and left hands. But it is possible. More importantly, it’s essential.

C is for Culture

Culture is invisible, pervasive, and personal. It is also the make-or-break factor for innovation because it surrounds innovation architecture, teams, and leaders.

Culture can expand to encourage and support exploration, creativity, and risk-taking. Or it can constrict, unleashing antibodies that swarm, suffocate, and kill anything that threatens the status quo.

Trying to control or change culture is like trying to hold water in your fist. But if you let go just a bit, create the right conditions, and wait patiently, change is possible.

Easy as 123

The most common mistake executives make in the pursuit of being “more innovative” is that they focus on only A or only B or only C.  But, as I always tell my clients, the answer is “and, not or.”

  1. Start with Architecture because it’s logical, rational, and produces tangible outputs like org charts, process flows, and instruction manuals filled with templates and tools. Architecture is comforting because it helps us know what to do and how.
  2. Use Architecture to encourage Behavior because the best way to learn something is to do it. With Architecture in place (but well before it’s finished), bring leaders into the work – talking to customers, sharing their ideas, and creating prototypes. When leaders do the work of innovation, they quickly realize what’s possible (and what’s not) and are open to learning how to engage (behave) in a way that supports innovation.
  3. Leverage Architecture and Behavior to engage Culture by creating the artifacts, rituals, and evidence that innovation can happen in your company, is happening and will continue to happen. As people see “innovation” evolve from a buzzword to a small investment to “the way we do business,” their skepticism will fade, and their support will grow.

Just like the Jackson 5 said

ABC, It’s easy a 123

Architecture, behavior, culture – they’re all essential to enabling an innovation capability that repeatedly creates new revenue.

And while starting with architecture, building new leadership behaviors, and investing until the culture changes isn’t easy, it’s the 123 steps required to “be more innovative.”

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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3 Ways to Get Customer Insights without Talking to Customers

3 Ways to Get Customer Insights without Talking to Customers

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

Most of my advice to leaders who want to use innovation to grow their businesses boils down to two things*:

  1. Talk (and listen) to customers
  2. Do something

But what if you don’t want to talk to customers?

After all, talking to customers can be scary because you don’t know what they’ll say. It can be triggering if they say something mean about your product, your business, or even you as a person. It can be draining, especially if you’re an introvert.

Plus, there are so many ways to avoid talking to customers – Send a survey, hire a research firm to write a report, invoke the famous Steve Jobs quote about never doing customer research.

Isn’t it just better to stay tucked away in the office, read reports, state opinions as if they are facts (those opinions are based on experience, after all), and make decisions?

Nope.

It is not better. It is also not safer, easier, or more efficient.

To make the best decisions, you need the best data, which comes from your customers.

But that doesn’t mean you need to talk to them to get it.

The best data

The best data helps you understand why your customers do what they do. This is why Jobs to be Done is such a powerful tool – it uncovers the emotional and social Jobs to be Done that drive our behavior and choices (functional Jobs to be Done are usually used to justify our choices).

But discovering Jobs to be Done typically requires you to talk to people, build rapport and trust in a one-on-one conversation, and ask Why? dozens of times so surface emotional and social JTBD.

Luckily, there are other ways to find Jobs to be Done that don’t require you to become an unlicensed therapist.

Observe your customers

Go where your customers are (or could be) experiencing the problem you hope to solve and try to blend in. Watch what people are doing and what they’re not doing. Notice whether people are alone or with others (and who those others are – kids, partners, colleagues, etc.). Listen to the environment (is it loud or quiet? If there’s noise, what kind of noise?) and to what people are saying to each other.

Be curious. Write down everything you’re observing. Wonder why and write down your hypotheses. Share your observations with your colleagues. Ask them to go out, observe, wonder, and share. Together you may discover answers or work up the courage to have a conversation.

Quick note – Don’t be creepy about this. Don’t lurk behind clothing racks, follow people through stores, peep through windows, linger too long, or wear sunglasses, a trench coat, and a fedora on a 90-degree day, so you look inconspicuous. If people start giving you weird looks, find a new place to people-watch.

Observe yourself

Humans are fascinating, and because you are a human, you are fascinating. So, observe yourself when you’re experiencing the problem you’re hoping to solve. Notice where you are, who is with you, the environment, and how you feel. Watch what you do and don’t do. Wonder why you chose one solution over another (or none).

Be curious. Write down everything you did, saw, and felt and why. Ask your colleagues to do the same. Share your observations with your colleagues and find points of commonality and divergence, then get curious all over again.

Quick note – This only works if you have approximately the same demographic and psychographic profiles and important and unsatisfied Jobs to be Done of your target customers.

Be your customer

What if your business solves a problem that can’t be easily observed? What if you don’t have the problem that your business is trying to solve?

Become your customer (and observe yourself).

Several years ago, I worked with a client that made adult incontinence products. I couldn’t observe people using their products, and I do not have important (or unsatisfied) Jobs to be Done that the products can solve.

So, for one day, I became a customer. I went to Target and purchased their product. I went home, wore, and used the product. I developed a deep empathy for the customer and wrote down roughly 1 million ways to innovate the product and experience.

Quick note – Depending on what’s required to “be your customer,” you may need to give people a heads up. My husband was incredibly patient and understanding but also a little concerned on the day of the experiment.

It’s about what you learn, not how you learn it

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking there is one best way to get insights. I’m 100% guilty (one-on-one conversations are a hill I have died on multiple times).

Ultimately, when it comes to innovation and decision-making, the more important thing is having, believing, and using insights into why customers do what they do and want what they want. How you get those insights is an important but secondary consideration.

* Each of those two things contains A TON of essential stuff that must be done the right way at the right time otherwise, they won’t work, but we’ll get into those things in another article

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Taking Personal Responsibility – Seeing Self as Cause

Taking Personal Responsibility – Seeing Self as Cause

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In our last two blogs on Taking Personal Responsibility, we stated that when people aren’t taking personal responsibility, they cannot be accountable, they will fail in their jobs, and their teams, and fail to grow as individuals and as leaders. Taking personal responsibility is an especially crucial capability to develop self-awareness and self-regulation skills in the decade of both disruption and transformation. It all starts with seeing self as the cause of what happens to us, rather than baling it on the effects events and problems have on us! Where people can learn to recognize the structures at play in their lives and change them so that they can create what they really want to create in their lives, teams, or organizations.

In the last two blogs, we shared a range of tips for shifting people’s location, by creating a line of choice, to help them shift from being below the line and blaming others for their reactive response, to getting above the line quickly.  Through shifting their language from “you, they and them” to “I, we and us” and bravely disrupting and calling out people when they do slip below the line. How doing this allows people to also systemically shift across the maturity continuum, from dependence to independence and ultimately towards interdependence.

In a recent newsletter Otto Scharmer, from the Presencing Institute states “Between action and non-action there is a place. A portal into the unknown. But what are we each called to contribute to the vision of the emerging future? Perhaps these times are simply doorways into the heart of the storm, a necessary journey through the cycles of time required to create change”.

Creating the place – the sacred pause

When I made a significant career change from a design and marketing management consultant to becoming a corporate trainer, one of the core principles I was expected to teach to senior corporate managers and leaders was taking personal responsibility.

Little knowing, that at the end of the workshop, going back to my hotel room and beating myself up, for all of the “wrongs” in the delivery of the learning program, was totally out of integrity with this core principle.

Realising that when people say – those that teach need to learn, I had mistakenly thought that I had to take responsibility for enacting the small imperfections I had delivered during the day, by berating myself, making myself “wrong” and through below the line self-depreciation!

Where I perfectly acted out the harmful process of self-blame, rather than rationally assessing the impact of each small imperfection, shifting to being above the line where I could intentionally apply the sacred pause:

  • Hit my pause button to get present, accept my emotional state,
  • Connect with what really happened to unpack the reality of the situation and eliminate my distortions around it,
  • Check-in and acknowledge how I was truly feeling about what happened,
  • Acknowledge some of the many things that I had done really well,
  • Ask myself what is the outcome/result I want for participants next program?
  • Ask myself what can I really learn from this situation?
  • Consciously choose what to do differently the next time I ran the program.

I still often find myself struggling with creating the Sacred Space between Stimulus and Response and have noticed in my global coaching practice, that many of my well-intentioned clients struggle with this too.

The impact of the last two and a half years of working at home, alone, online, with minimal social interactions and contact, has caused many of them to languish in their reactivity, and for some of them, into drowning in a very full emotional boat, rather than riding the wave of disruptive change.

Being the creative cause

In our work at ImagineNation, whether we help people, leaders and teams adapt, innovate and grow through disruption, their ability to develop true self-awareness and be above the line is often the most valuable and fundamental skill set they develop.

It then enables us to make the distinction that creating is completely different from reacting or responding to the circumstances people find themselves in by applying the sacred pause.

When people shift towards seeing self as the cause they are able to create and co-create what they want in their lives, teams or organization by learning to create by creating, starting with asking the question:

  • What result do you want to create in your life?
  • What is the reality of your current situation?

This creates a state of tension, it is this tension that seeks resolution.

In his ground-breaking book The Path of Least Resistance Robert Fritz, goes on to describe and rank these desired results as “Fundamental Choices, Primary Choices, and Secondary Choices.”

Because there is one thing that we can all do right and is totally in our control – is to shift towards seeing self as the cause and make a set of conscious choices, with open hearts, minds, and wills, as to how we think, feel and choose to act.

“We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals.”

We all have the options and choices in taking responsibility, empowering ourselves and others to be imaginative and creative, and using the range of rapid changes, ongoing disruption, uncertainty, and the adverse pandemic consequences, as levers for shifting and controlling, the way we think, feel.

Benefits of seeing self as the cause and being above the line

Applying the sacred pause to make change choices in how we act – and being brave and bold in shifting across the maturity continuum, will help us to cultivate the creativity, interdependence, and systemic thinking we all need right now because it:

  • Helps people self-regulate their reactive emotional responses, be more open-hearted and emotionally agile, and helps develop psychologically safe work environments where people can collaborate and experiment, and fail without the fear of retribution or punishment.
  • Enables people to be more open-minded, imaginative, and curious and creates a safe space for continuous learning, maximizing diversity and inclusion, and proactive intentional change and transformation.
  • Promotes ownership of a problem or challenging situation and helps develop constructive and creative responses to problems and an ability to take intelligent actions.
  • Gives people an opportunity to impact positively on others and build empowered trusted and collaborative relationships.
  • Enables entrepreneurs and innovators to invent creative solutions and drive successful innovative outcomes.
  • Building the foundations for accountability, where people focus their locus of control on what they promise to deliver, enables them to be intrinsically motivated, and take smart risks on negotiating outcomes that they can be counted on for delivering.

Tips for seeing self as the cause and operating above the line

Taking personal responsibility and seeing self as the cause involves:

  • Acknowledging that “I/we had a role or contributed in some way, to the fact that this has not worked out the way “I/we wanted.”
  • Clarifying the outcome or result in you want from a specific situation or a problem.
  • Seeking alternatives and options for making intelligent choices and actions, and using the language of “I/we can” and “I/we will” to achieve the outcome.
  • Replacing avoiding, being cynical and argumentative, blaming, shaming, controlling, and complaining with courageous, compassionate, and creative language and acts of intention.
  • People become victors who operate from “self as cause” where they are empowered to be the creative forces in their own lives by making fundamental, primary, and secondary change choices.
  • Trust your inner knowing and deep wisdom that everything has a specific and definable cause and that each and every one of us has the freedom to choose how to respond to it.

Back to leadership basics

As Stephen Covey says, people need to deeply and honestly say “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday” because it’s not what happens to us, it’s our reactive response to what happens that hurts us.

Being willing to step back, retreat, and reflect on the gap between the results you want, and the results you are getting all starts with stepping inward, backward, and forwards, using the sacred pause, to ask:

  • What happened? What were the key driving forces behind it?
  • How am I/we truly feeling about it?
  • What was my/our role in causing this situation, or result?
  • What can I/we learn from it?
  • What is the result/outcome I want to create in the future?
  • What can I/we then do to create it?

As a corporate trainer, consultant and coach, I found out the hard way that developing the self-awareness and self-regulation skills in taking personal responsibility and seeing self as the cause is the basis of the personal power and freedom that is so important to me, and almost everyone else I am currently interacting with.

It’s the foundation for transcending paralysis, overwhelm, and stuck-ness and activating our sense of agency to transform society and ourselves.

This is the third and final blog in a series of blogs on the theme of taking responsibility – going back to leadership basics. Read the previous two here:

Find out about our learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starting Tuesday, October 18, 2022. It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus,  human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique context.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Taking Personal Responsibility – Creating the Line of Choice

Taking Personal Responsibility - Creating the Line of Choice

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In our last blog, we described how people’s personal power is diminished when they don’t take personal responsibility for the impact of their behaviors and actions and the results they cause. Where many people are feeling minimized and marginalized, anxious as a result of being isolated and lonely, worrying about losing their security and freedom, and dealing with the instability in their working environments.  Resulting in many people disengaging from the important conversations, job functions, key relationships, workplaces, and in some instances, even from society. Where managers and leaders lack the basic self-awareness and self-regulation skills to control the only controllable in uncertain and unstable times, is to choose how to respond, rather than react to it.

We have a unique moment in time to shift their defensiveness through being compassionate, creative, and courageous towards helping managers and leaders unfreeze and mobilize to exit our comfort zones.  To take intelligent actions catalyze and cause positive outcomes, that deliver real solutions to crises, complex situations, and difficult business problems.

Why do people avoid taking personal responsibility?

People typically avoid taking personal responsibility for reasons ranging from simple laziness, risk adversity, or a fear of failure, to feeling change fatigued, overwhelmed, or even victimized by the scale of a problem or a situation.

Resulting in a range of different automatic defensive, and a range of non-productive reactive responses including:

  • Avoidant behavior, where feel victimized and targeted, people passively “wriggle” and the buck gets passed onto others, and the real problem or issue does not get addressed or resolved.
  • Controlling behavior, where people ignore their role in causing or resolving the real problem or issue, and aggressively push others towards their mandate or solution, denying others any agency.
  • Argumentative behavior, where people play the binary “right-wrong” game, and self-righteously, triggered by their own values, oppose other people’s perspectives in order to be right and make the other person wrong.

Creating the line of choice

At Corporate Vision, we added a thick line of “choice” between “personal responsibility” and “blame, justification and denial” to intentionally create space for people to consider taking more emotionally hygienic options rather than:

  • Dumping their “emotional boats” inappropriately onto others, even those they may deeply care about,
  • Sinking into their habitual, and largely unconscious default patterns when facing complex problems, which results in the delivery of the same results they always have.
  • Not regulating their automatic reactive responses to challenging situations, and not creating the vital space to pause and reflect to think about what to do next.

To enable them to shift towards taking response-ability (an ability to respond) and introducing more useful options for responding in emotionally agile, considered, constructive, inclusive, and creative ways to the problem or the challenge.

Noticing that when we, or others we interact with, do slip below the line to notice whether to “camp” there for the long term or to simply choose to make the “visit” a short one!

Doing this demonstrates the self-awareness and self-regulation skills enabling people to take personal responsibility. Which initiates ownership and a willingness to be proactive, solutions, and achievement orientated – all of which are essential qualities for 21st century conscious leadership that result in innovative outcomes that result in success, growth, and sustainability.

Shifting your location – from “you, they and them” to “I, we and us”

Developing the foundations for transformational and conscious leadership involves:

  • Supporting people to acknowledge and accept that the problem or challenge is not “out there” and is within their locus of control or influence.
  • Shifting the “Maturity Continuum” to enable leaders and managers to be both independent and interdependent.
  • Creating a line of choice to think, act and do things differently.
  • Calling out people when they slip below the line.

It involves supporting people to let go of their expectation that “they” or someone else, from the outside, will fix it, and supporting them to adopt a stance where:

  • “I” or “we” can and are empowered to do it,
  • “I” or “we” are responsible for getting above the line,
  • “I” or “we” can choose a different way of being, thinking, and acting intelligently in this situation.

Developing conscious leadership

At any time, everyone is either above or below the line because it is elemental to the type of conscious leadership we all need to survive and thrive, in a world where people are seeking leaders, managers, and working environments that require interdependence.

To operate in the paradigm of “we” – we can do it; we can cooperate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.

We cooperate together by creating the line of choice where we call out to ourselves and others when we slip below it, to get above the line as quickly as possible.

Where interdependent people and communities combine their efforts, and their self-awareness and self-regulation skills with the efforts of others to achieve their growth and greatest success by increasing:

  • Transparency and trust,
  • Achievement and accountability,
  • Diversity and inclusion,
  • Experimentation and collaboration.

All of these are founded on the core principle of taking personal responsibility, which is an especially crucial capability to develop self-awareness and self-regulation skills in the decade of both disruption and transformation.

Bravely calling out self and others

When we take responsibility for managing our own, “below the line” reactive responses, by habitually creating the line of choice, we can bravely call out ourselves and others when we slip below it.

Because when we don’t call ourselves and others we interact with, we are unconsciously colluding with their emotional boats, default patterns, and automatic reactive responses, which inhibit their ability to effect positive change.

When we safely awaken ourselves and others, we can get back above the line quickly and choose different ways of being, thinking, and acting intelligently in the situation.

Alternately, people aren’t taking personal responsibility, they cannot be accountable, they will fail in their jobs, and their teams, and fail to grow as individuals and as leaders.

In fact, developing a habitual practice of emotionally intelligent and conscious leadership by safely and bravely disrupting ourselves and our people, in the face of ongoing uncertainty, accelerating change, and continuous disruption.

This is the second in a series of three blogs on the theme of taking responsibility – going back to leadership basics.

Find out about our learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starting Tuesday, October 18, 2022. It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus,  human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique context.

Image credit: Unsplash

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Disrupt Yourself, Your Team and Your Organization

Disrupt Yourself, Your Team and Your Organization

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

Moving into a new year is always a time for retreating and reflecting to accelerate growth and harvest new ideas from our feelings, thoughts, and learnings gleaned from the last two years of disruption, extreme uncertainty, and instability. Whether you are actively seeking to disrupt yourself, your team, and your organization to effect sustainable success this year, or not, we all have the opportunity to adapt, innovate and grow from the range of challenging events that impacted us in the past 24 months. This is why it might be useful to see these disruptive events as positive, powerful, and impactful forces for creating new cracks in your own, or your team or organizational soil – to sow some imaginative, creative, and inventive seeds for effecting positive change in an unstable world.

To see them germinate the desired changes you want for yourself, your team, and organization and deliver them, to survive and thrive in 2022.

We are all being challenged by disruption

Our status quo and concepts of business-as-usual have all been significantly disrupted, resulting in a range and series of deep neurological shocks, that have shaken many of us, our teams, and our organizations, to our very cores.  Some of us adapted to a sense of urgency and exploited the opportunity to reinvent, iterate, or pivot our teams and organizations, towards co-creating individual and intentional “new normals” and just “got on” with it. Some of us have continually denied, defended, and avoided making changes, where many of us have sunk deeply into our fears and anxieties, falsely believing that our lives, and our work, would eventually go back to “normal”.

This is because a significant number of our habitual, largely unconscious mental models and emotional states, were disrupted, largely by events beyond our individual and collective control.  Causing many of us to experience “cognitive dissonance” (a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors that produce feelings of mental discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance) from the chaos, discomfort, confusion, and conflict.

Which saw many of us, disconnect cognitively and emotionally, from the current disruptive reality, where some of us secretly hoped that “it will all go away” manifesting and festering fundamentally and unconsciously, as inherent neurological immobility, (freeze, fight, flight) resulting in many areas as resistance to change.

Why disrupt yourself, your team, and organization?

Yet disruptive change is inevitable, the speed and pace of exponential change cannot be stopped, the range of complex and wicked global and local problems that need to be solved collectively, aren’t going away.

Job security and full-time employment, as hybrid and virtual work, and technology accelerate, are becoming “things of the past” as the workplace continues to destabilize through digitization, AI, and automation.

Whilst the war for talent also accelerates as the great resignation sets in and people make powerful, empowered life balance decisions and are on the move globally.

Taking the first steps to disrupt yourself, your team, and organization

In this time of extreme uncertainty, we have a unique moment in time, to disrupt ourselves, teams, and organizations by:

  1. Hitting our individual, collective mental, and emotional pause buttons, to retreat from our business-as-usual activities, and take time out to reflect upon paying attention and qualifying:
  • How specifically have I/we been disrupted?
  • How have our people,  teams, and customers been disrupted?
  • What are some of the major collective impacts on our organization’s current status and how might these impact our future growth potential and overall sustainability?
  • How connected are we to an exponential world, how can we ensure that our feelings, thoughts, and actions, connect with what is really happening to us, our teams, and our customers?
  • What causes disconnection and how might we manage it to be more mentally tough and emotionally agile in an extremely uncertain future?
  • What really matters to us, our teams, organizations, and customers – what do our people, teams, and customers really want from us?
  • What are some of the key elements of our organizational strategy to enact our purpose and deliver our mission?
  1. Generating safe, evocative, provocative, and creative conversations, that evoke deep listening and deep questioning, about how to individually and collectively reconnect, revitalize, rejuvenate and reenergize people, teams and organizations to survive and thrive through asking:
  • How can we engage and harness our people and teams’ energies in ways that mobilize their collective intelligence to evoke new mindset shifts and new ways of thinking and acting?
  • What are some of the key mindsets and traits we need to disrupt, shift, and cultivate to be successful to adapt and grow through disruption?
  • What skills do our leaders and teams need to learn to think and act differently to shift the organizations culture to deliver our strategy?
  • How might we shift our teams and organizations to be agile, and redesign our organizations for both stability and speed?
  • What does it mean to us, our teams, and organizations to be creative, inventive, and innovative – How might we shift our teams and organizations to be more creative, inventive, and innovative?
  • What are the new behavioral norms that will support and enable us to execute agile and innovative changes?
  • How might becoming agile and innovative help our people, teams co-create a healthy, high-performing, and sustainable organizational culture?
  • How might becoming agile and innovative add value to the quality of people’s lives and help our customers flourish?
  1. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable by developing our peoples, teams, and our organizational “discomfort resilience” and dance of the edge of your comfort zones through:
  • Creating safe environments where people and teams are allowed to experiment,  have permission, and are trusted to practice, make mistakes as they move through difficult emotions, and take little bets in low stake situations.
  • Intentionally breaking organizational routines and habits, to create space in people’s brains for new neural pathways to be developed.
  • Enabling people and teams to become mindful of their triggers, to interrupt their automatic reactions.
  • Equipping people and teams to thoughtfully and intentionally respond to situations, that make them uncomfortable and risk-averse, by knowing how to think differently.
  • Bringing more play into the way people work, encourages people to be imaginative, inquisitive, curious, and improvisational, to seek different ways of thinking and acting, that really make a difference in how work gets done.
  • Support people and teams to learn by doing, and failing fast, without the fear of blame, shame, and retribution, despite it being risky to do that.

Why not disrupt yourself, your team, and organization?

The future is going to be full of disruptive events and circumstances that will impact is our families, communities, team, and organizations, and the conditions of extreme uncertainty and disruption are not going to go away. In fact, they are fundamental to what might be described as our collective “new normal” and it’s up to you to disrupt yourself, your team, and organization, to lead, adapt and grow, to survive and thrive through it.

Find out about The Coach for Innovators Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deep personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 8-weeks, starting May 2022. It is a blended learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of a human-centered approach to innovation, within your unique context. Find out more.

Contact us now at mailto:janet@imaginenation.com.au to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt, and grow your business, team and organization through disruption.

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Innovation Requires Going Fast, Slow and Meta

Innovation Requires Going Both Fast and Slow

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

In the regulatory filing for Facebook’s 2012 IPO, Mark Zuckerberg included a letter outlining his management philosophy. Entitled, The Hacker Way, it encapsulated much of the zeitgeist. “We have a saying,” he wrote. “‘Move fast and break things.’ The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.”

At around the same time, Katalin Karikó was quietly plodding away in her lab at the University of Pennsylvania. She had been working on an idea since the early 1990s and it hadn’t amounted to much so far, but was finally beginning to attract some interest. The next year she would join a small startup named BioNTech to commercialize her work and would continue to chip at the problem.

Things would accelerate in early 2020, when Karikó’s mRNA technology was used to design a coronavirus vaccine in a matter of mere hours. Just as Daniel Kahneman explained that there are fast and slow modes of thinking, the same can be said about innovating. The truth is that moving slowly is often underrated and that moving fast can sometimes bog you down.

The Luxury Of Stability

Mark Zuckerberg had the luxury of being disruptive because he was working in a mature, stable environment. His “Hacker Way” letter showed a bias for action over deliberation in the form of “shipping code,” because he had little else to worry about. Facebook could be built fast, because it was built on top of technology that was slowly developed over decades.

The origins of modern computing are complex, with breakthroughs in multiple fields eventually converging into a single technology. Alan Turing and Claude Shannon provided much of the theoretical basis for digital computing in the 1930s and 40s. Yet the vacuum tube technology at the time only allowed for big, clunky machines that were very limited.

A hardware breakthrough came in 1948, when John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain invented the transistor, followed by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce’s development of the integrated circuit in the late 1960s. The first computers were connected to the Internet a decade later and, a generation after that, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.

All of this happened very slowly but, by the time Mark Zuckerberg became aware of it all, it was just part of the landscape. Much like older generations grew up with the Interstate Highway System and took for granted that they could ride freely on it, Millennial hackers grew up in a period of technological, not to mention political, stability.

The Dangers Of Disruption

Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook with a bold idea. “We believe that a more open world is a better world because people with more information can make better decisions and have a greater impact,” he wrote. That vision was central to how he built the company and its products. He believed that enabling broader and more efficient communication would foster a deeper and more complete understanding.

Yet the world looks much different when your vantage point is a technology company in Menlo Park, California then it does from, say, a dacha outside Moscow. If you are an aging authoritarian who is somewhat frustrated by your place in the world rather than a young, hubristic entrepreneur, you may take a dimmer view on things.

For many, if not most, people on earth, the world is often a dark and dangerous place and the best defense is often to go on offense. From that vantage point, an open information system is less an opportunity to promote better understanding and more of a vulnerability you can leverage to exploit your enemy.

In fact, the House of Representatives Committee on Intelligence found that agents of the Russian government used the open nature of Facebook and other social media outlets to spread misinformation and sow discord. That’s the problem with moving fast and breaking things. If you’re not careful, you inevitably end up breaking something important.

This principle will become even more important in the years ahead as the potential for serious disruption increases markedly.

The Four Disruptive Shifts Of The Next Decade

While the era that shaped millennials like Mark Zuckerberg was mostly stable, the next decade is likely to be one of the most turbulent in history, with massive shifts in demography, resources, technology and migration. Each one of these has the potential to be destabilizing, the confluence of all four courts disaster and demands that we tread carefully.

Consider the demographic shift caused by the Millennials and Gen Z’ers coming of age. The last time we had a similar generational transition was with the Baby Boomers in the 1960s, which saw more than its share of social and political strife. The shift in values that will take place over the next ten years or so is likely to be similar in scale and scope.

Yet that’s just the start. We will also be shifting in resources from fossil fuels to renewables, in technology from bits to atoms and in migration globally from south to north and from rural to urban areas. The last time we had so many important structural changes going on at once it was the 1920s and that, as we should remember, did not turn out well.

It’s probably no accident that today, much like a century ago, we seem to yearn for “a return to normalcy.” The past two decades have been exhausting, with global terrorism, a massive financial meltdown and now a pandemic fraying our nerves and heightening our sense of vulnerability.

Still, I can’t help feeling that the lessons of the recent past can serve us well in creating a better future.

We Need To Rededicate Ourselves Tackling Grand Challenges

In Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, he explained that we have two modes of thinking. The first is fast and intuitive. The second is slow and deliberative. His point wasn’t that one was better than the other, but that both have their purpose and we need to learn how to use both effectively. In many ways, the two go hand-in-hand.

One thing that is often overlooked is that to think fast effectively often takes years of preparation. Certain professions, such as surgeons and pilots, train for years to hone their instincts so that they will be able to react quickly and appropriately in an emergency. In many ways, you can’t think fast without first having thought slow.

Innovation is the same way. We were able to develop coronavirus vaccines in record time because of the years of slow, painstaking work by Katalin Karikó and others like her, much like how Mark Zuckerberg was able to “move fast and break things” because of the decades of breakthroughs it took to develop the technology that he “hacked.”

Today, as the digital era is ending, we need to rededicate ourselves to innovating slow. Just as our investment in things like the human genome project has returned hundreds of times what we put into it, our investment in the grand challenges of the future will enable countless new (hopefully more modest) Zuckerbergs to wax poetic about “hacker culture.”

Innovation is never a single event. It is a process of discovery, engineering and transformation and those things never happen in one place or at one time. That’s why we need to innovate fast and slow, build healthy collaborations and set our sights a bit higher.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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We’re Disrupting People Instead of Industries Now

We're Disrupting People Instead of Industries Now

In 1997, when Clayton Christensen first published The Innovator’s Dilemma and introduced the term “disruptive innovation,” it was a clarion call. Business leaders were put on notice: It is no longer enough to simply get better at what you already do, you need to watch out for a change in the basis of competition that will open the door for a disruptive competitor.

Today, it’s become fashionable for business pundits to say that we live in a VUCA era, one that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, but the evidence says otherwise. Increasingly researchers are finding that businesses are enjoying a period that is less disruptive, less competitive and less dynamic.

The truth is that we don’t really disrupt businesses anymore, we disrupt people and that’s truly becoming a problem. As businesses are increasingly protected from competition, they are becoming less innovative and less productive. Americans, meanwhile, are earning less and paying more. It’s time we stop doubling down on failed ideas and begin to right the ship.

The Productivity Paradox

In the 1920s two emerging technologies, internal combustion and electricity, finally began to hit their stride and kicked off a 50-year boom in productivity growth. During that time things changed dramatically. We shifted from a world where few Americans had indoor plumbing, an automobile or electrical appliances to one in which the average family had all of these things.

Technology enthusiasts like to compare the digital revolution with that earlier era, but that’s hardly the case. If anybody today was magically transported 50 years back to 1970, they would see much they would recognize. Yet if most modern people had to live in 1920, where even something as simple as cooking a meal required hours of backbreaking labor, they would struggle to survive.

The evidence is far more than anecdotal however. Productivity statistics clearly show that productivity growth started to slow in the early 1970s, just as computer investment began to rise. With the introduction of the Internet, there was a brief bump in productivity between 1996 and 2004, but then it disappeared again. Today, even with the introduction of social media, mobile Internet and artificial intelligence, we appear to be in a second productivity paradox.

Businesses can earn an economic profit in one of two ways. They can unlock new value through innovation or they can seek to reduce competition. In an era of diminished productivity, it shouldn’t be surprising that many firms have chosen the latter. What is truly startling is the ease and extent to which we have let them get away with it.

Rent Seeking And Regulatory Capture

Investment decisions are driven by profit expectations. If, for instance, a firm sees great potential in a new technology, they will invest in research and development. On the other hand, if they see greater potential influencing governments, they will invest in that. So it is worrying that lobbying expenditures have more than doubled since 1998.

The money goes towards two basic purposes. The first, called rent seeking, involves businesses increasing profits by the law to work in their favor, as when car dealerships in New Jersey sued against Tesla’s direct sales model. The second, regulatory capture, seeks to co-opt agencies that are supposed to govern industry.

It seems like they’re getting their money’s worth. Corporate tax rates in the US have steadily decreased and are now among the lowest in the developed world. Occupational licensing, often the result of lobbying by trade associations, has increased fivefold since the 1950s. Antitrust regulation has become virtually nonexistent, while competition has been reduced.

The result is that while corporations earn record profits, we pay more and get less. This is especially clear in some highly visible industries, such as airlines, cable and mobile carriers, but the effect is much more widespread than that. Keep in mind that, in many states, legislators earn less than $20,000 per year. It’s easy to see how a little investment can go a long way.

Decreasing Returns To Labor

With businesses facing less competition and a more favorable regulatory environment, which not only lowers costs but raises barriers to new market entrants, it shouldn’t be surprising that the stock market has hit record highs. Ordinarily that would be something to cheer, but evidence suggests that the gains are coming at the expense of the rest of us.

A report from MicKinsey Global Institute finds that labor’s share of income has been declining rapidly since 2000, especially in the United States. This is, of course, due to a number of factors, such as low productivity, automation, globalization. Decreased labor bargaining power due to increased market power of employers, however, has been shown to play an especially significant role.

At the same time that our wages have been reduced, the prices we pay have increased, especially in education and healthcare. A study from Pew shows that, for most Americans, real wages have hardly budged since 1964. Instead of becoming better off over time, many families are actually doing worse.

The effects of this long-term squeeze have become dire. Increasingly, Americans are dying deaths of despair from things like alcohol abuse, drug overdose, and suicide. Recent research has also shown that the situation has gotten worse during Covid.

We Are Entering A Dangerous Decade

Decades of disruption have left us considerably worse off. Income inequality is at record highs. Anxiety and depression, already at epidemic levels, has worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic. These trends are most acute in the US, but are essentially global in nature and have contributed to the rise in populist authoritarianism around the world.

Things are likely to get worse over the next decade as we undergo profound shifts in technology, resources, migration and demographics. To put that in perspective, a demographic shift alone was enough to make the 60s a tumultuous era. Clearly, our near future is fraught with danger.

Yet history is not destiny. We have the power to shape our path by making better choices. A good first step would be to finally abandon the cult of disruption that’s served us so poorly and begin to once again invest in stability and resilience, by creating better, safer technology, more competitive and stable markets and a happier, more productive workforce.

Perhaps most of all, we need to internalize the obvious principle that systems and ideologies should serve people, not the other way around. If we increase GDP and the stock market hits record highs, but the population is poorer, less healthy and less happy, then what have we won?

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Pexels

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At the Heart of Successful Digital Transformations are Humans and Data

At the Heart of Successful Digital Transformations are Humans and Data

Digital transformation has become an overused buzzword.

When most people speak about digital transformation, they are really speaking about digitization, digitalization, or digital strategy.

They are all very different and none of them are digital transformation.

Let’s look at each of these four terms so that we can be very clear about what we are talking about:

  1. Digitization – Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital (i.e. computer-readable) format (source: Wikipedia)
  2. Digitalization – Digitalization is the adaptation of a system, process, etc. to be operated with the use of computers and the internet (source: Oxford Dictionary)
  3. Digital strategy – In the fields of strategic management, marketing strategy, and business strategy, digital strategy is the process of specifying an organization’s vision, goals, opportunities and related activities in order to maximize the business benefits of digital initiatives to the organization (source: Wikipedia)
  4. Digital transformation – A digital transformation is the journey between a company’s current business operations to a reimagined version from the perspective of how a digital native would build the same business operations leveraging the latest technology and scientific understandings of management science, leadership, decision science, business and process architecture, design, customer experience, etc. (source: bradenkelley.com)

At the heart of successful digital transformation, innovation, disruption, and even customer experience are two things:

  • Humans
  • Data

Continue reading on the HCL Technology Blog


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What’s Next – The Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit™

What's Next - The Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit™… and a new Innovation Intervention service.

People have been asking me recently – What’s next?

I think managers and leaders are wondering now that I’ve written two popular books (Charting Change and Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire) and a chapter in a third (A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing), if I’ll ever write another book.

But, they’re also curious given all the great tools in the Change Planning Toolkit™ that can fundamentally transform how we plan our projects and change initiatives, helping individuals and organizations move beyond theory to practice, whether I’ll ever create anything similar to help companies increase their innovation success.

The answer to both questions is a resounding YES!

I am pursuing, in parallel, the Define, Design, and Develop phases on a number of different tools to form the basis of a Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit™ for organizations to leverage in pursuit of my evolution of value innovation.

If you’ve attended one of my innovation keynotes or workshops you’ve seen how my innovation viewpoint (Innovation is All About Value) leads to all types of innovation, including disruptive innovation, and how it links to LEAN methodologies so that organizations can organize and execute across the entire spectrum of improvement and innovation possibilities.

Some of my most recent clients, including The Bank of Montreal and OSF Healthcare, have received an advance preview of some of the early components of the upcoming Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit™.

At the same time, I am also finishing efforts to define a new Innovation Intervention service offering to help organizations who have started an innovation effort or built an innovation program, only to see it go off the rails. I will work with organizations in an Innovation Intervention to help them get back on track towards success and build a foundation capable of sustaining continuous innovation. Forward-thinking organizations that haven’t begun an innovation program or a focus on innovation and want to get off to a strong start will be able to leverage this upcoming Innovation Intervention service too.

Finally, when I do write a third book, it will probably dig deeper into how to build an organization wired for continuous change, including successfully executing a digital transformation and sustaining full spectrum innovation and improvement excellence.

So, this is what’s next.

If you’d like to find out more about my Innovation Intervention or Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit™ in advance of their launch, in order to get a jump on your competition, please contact me.

Stay tuned for more information on these efforts soon!

Innovation Audit from Braden Kelley

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Inside the Mind of Jeff Bezos

Amazon's Innovation PhilosophyIt is not too often that the leader of a Fortune 500 gives you an insight into how their company achieves competitive advantage in the marketplace in a letter to shareholders, instead of launching into a page or two of flowery prose written by the Public Relations (PR) team that works for them. The former is what Jeff Bezos tends to deliver year after year. This year’s letter is particularly interesting.

The two key insights in this year’s letter were that:

#1 – Amazon strives to view itself as a startup champion riding to the rescue of customers
#2 – Amazon chooses to be customer-obsessed, not customer-focused or customer-centric, but customer-obsessed

Both of these are crucial to sustaining innovation, and are supported by Jeff’s other main pieces of advice:

– Resisting proxies
– Embracing external trends
– Practicing high velocity decision making

But, I won’t steal Jeff’s thunder. I encourage you to read Jeff’s letter to shareholders in its entirety, check out the bonus video interview at the end, and add comments to share what you find particularly interesting in the letter.

Keep innovating!

—————————————————————-
2016 Letter to Amazon Shareholders
April 12, 2017

“Jeff, what does Day 2 look like?”

That’s a question I just got at our most recent all-hands meeting. I’ve been reminding people that it’s Day 1 for a couple of decades. I work in an Amazon building named Day 1, and when I moved buildings, I took the name with me. I spend time thinking about this topic.

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

To be sure, this kind of decline would happen in extreme slow motion. An established company might harvest Day 2 for decades, but the final result would still come.

I’m interested in the question, how do you fend off Day 2? What are the techniques and tactics? How do you keep the vitality of Day 1, even inside a large organization?

Such a question can’t have a simple answer. There will be many elements, multiple paths, and many traps. I don’t know the whole answer, but I may know bits of it. Here’s a starter pack of essentials for Day 1 defense: customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision making.

True Customer Obsession

There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.

Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.

Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.

Resist Proxies

As companies get larger and more complex, there’s a tendency to manage to proxies. This comes in many shapes and sizes, and it’s dangerous, subtle, and very Day 2.

A common example is process as proxy. Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right. Gulp. It’s not that rare to hear a junior leader defend a bad outcome with something like, “Well, we followed the process.” A more experienced leader will use it as an opportunity to investigate and improve the process. The process is not the thing. It’s always worth asking, do we own the process or does the process own us? In a Day 2 company, you might find it’s the second.

Another example: market research and customer surveys can become proxies for customers – something that’s especially dangerous when you’re inventing and designing products. “Fifty-five percent of beta testers report being satisfied with this feature. That is up from 47% in the first survey.” That’s hard to interpret and could unintentionally mislead.

Good inventors and designers deeply understand their customer. They spend tremendous energy developing that intuition. They study and understand many anecdotes rather than only the averages you’ll find on surveys. They live with the design.

I’m not against beta testing or surveys. But you, the product or service owner, must understand the customer, have a vision, and love the offering. Then, beta testing and research can help you find your blind spots. A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste. You won’t find any of it in a survey.

Embrace External Trends

The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.
These big trends are not that hard to spot (they get talked and written about a lot), but they can be strangely hard for large organizations to embrace. We’re in the middle of an obvious one right now: machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Over the past decades computers have broadly automated tasks that programmers could describe with clear rules and algorithms. Modern machine learning techniques now allow us to do the same for tasks where describing the precise rules is much harder.

At Amazon, we’ve been engaged in the practical application of machine learning for many years now. Some of this work is highly visible: our autonomous Prime Air delivery drones; the Amazon Go convenience store that uses machine vision to eliminate checkout lines; and Alexa, our cloud-based AI assistant. (We still struggle to keep Echo in stock, despite our best efforts. A high-quality problem, but a problem. We’re working on it.)

But much of what we do with machine learning happens beneath the surface. Machine learning drives our algorithms for demand forecasting, product search ranking, product and deals recommendations, merchandising placements, fraud detection, translations, and much more. Though less visible, much of the impact of machine learning will be of this type – quietly but meaningfully improving core operations.

Inside AWS, we’re excited to lower the costs and barriers to machine learning and AI so organizations of all sizes can take advantage of these advanced techniques.

Using our pre-packaged versions of popular deep learning frameworks running on P2 compute instances (optimized for this workload), customers are already developing powerful systems ranging everywhere from early disease detection to increasing crop yields. And we’ve also made Amazon’s higher level services available in a convenient form. Amazon Lex (what’s inside Alexa), Amazon Polly, and Amazon Rekognition remove the heavy lifting from natural language understanding, speech generation, and image analysis. They can be accessed with simple API calls – no machine learning expertise required. Watch this space. Much more to come.

High-Velocity Decision Making

Day 2 companies make high-quality decisions, but they make high-quality decisions slowly. To keep the energy and dynamism of Day 1, you have to somehow make high-quality, high-velocity decisions. Easy for start-ups and very challenging for large organizations. The senior team at Amazon is determined to keep our decision-making velocity high. Speed matters in business – plus a high-velocity decision making environment is more fun too. We don’t know all the answers, but here are some thoughts.

First, never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process. Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors. Those decisions can use a light-weight process. For those, so what if you’re wrong? I wrote about this in more detail in last year’s letter.

Second, most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.

Third, use the phrase “disagree and commit.” This phrase will save a lot of time. If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, “Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?” By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.

This isn’t one way. If you’re the boss, you should do this too. I disagree and commit all the time. We recently greenlit a particular Amazon Studios original. I told the team my view: debatable whether it would be interesting enough, complicated to produce, the business terms aren’t that good, and we have lots of other opportunities. They had a completely different opinion and wanted to go ahead. I wrote back right away with “I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we’ve ever made.” Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.

Note what this example is not: it’s not me thinking to myself “well, these guys are wrong and missing the point, but this isn’t worth me chasing.” It’s a genuine disagreement of opinion, a candid expression of my view, a chance for the team to weigh my view, and a quick, sincere commitment to go their way. And given that this team has already brought home 11 Emmys, 6 Golden Globes, and 3 Oscars, I’m just glad they let me in the room at all!

Fourth, recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately. Sometimes teams have different objectives and fundamentally different views. They are not aligned. No amount of discussion, no number of meetings will resolve that deep misalignment. Without escalation, the default dispute resolution mechanism for this scenario is exhaustion. Whoever has more stamina carries the decision.

I’ve seen many examples of sincere misalignment at Amazon over the years. When we decided to invite third party sellers to compete directly against us on our own product detail pages – that was a big one. Many smart, well-intentioned Amazonians were simply not at all aligned with the direction. The big decision set up hundreds of smaller decisions, many of which needed to be escalated to the senior team.

“You’ve worn me down” is an awful decision-making process. It’s slow and de-energizing. Go for quick escalation instead – it’s better.

So, have you settled only for decision quality, or are you mindful of decision velocity too? Are the world’s trends tailwinds for you? Are you falling prey to proxies, or do they serve you? And most important of all, are you delighting customers? We can have the scope and capabilities of a large company and the spirit and heart of a small one. But we have to choose it.

A huge thank you to each and every customer for allowing us to serve you, to our shareowners for your support, and to Amazonians everywhere for your hard work, your ingenuity, and your passion.

As always, I attach a copy of our original 1997 letter. It remains Day 1.

Sincerely,

Jeff

———————————

If you’d like dive deeper into the mind of Jeff Bezos, then check out this interview with him conducted by Walt Mossberg of The Verge last year at Code Conference 2016:

And here is another fascinating peek inside the mind of Jeff Bezos from 1997:


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