Author Archives: Inspiring Innovations, Inc.
Have you ever heard or thought about the priceless value of spreading Creativity “Fertilizer” in your home…workplace…community? This notion may sound odd and a little bit “out-there”…but consider the progressive impacts this type of activity can produce.
First think about the fact that most people really like becoming engaged with creative people. Whether it’s the positive energy, thinking beyond the norm, and/or just the “dream-ability” that results from an open, blended discussion.
But what do I mean by spreading Creativity “Fertilizer”? Here are a few examples:
- Writing down a fun single word on the breakroom board and asking for cool thoughts from co-workers.
- Setting 15 minutes aside every other day to just visit with a co-worker about “what-else” your group could initiate.
- Having an IDEA DROP-BOX in your workplace…for everyone.
- Including a Creativity & Innovation time on every meeting agenda.
- Sending out a monthly message to friends and colleagues asking for them “sprinkle” a little Creativity “Fertilizer” in their workplaces.
- Occasionally bringing in a professional person…not connected to your workplace and asking them to share thoughts about creativity in their world.
I believe it is critical for everyone to spread a little Creativity “Fertilizer” from time-to-time. It is a solid professional development habit and it makes innovative thoughts and actions contagious!
Every once in a while, I find myself going back to my job training administer career roots. However even though with this podcast title it feels like I am just talking history… the importance of understanding and teaching work ethic skills will forever be a true leadership responsibility.
This month’s Inspiring Innovations LEARNING MOMENTS Podcast: 21st Century Work Ethic Skills is all about minimum new age employee workplace expectations. My observational research has helped me identify five (5) that I felt were high value. I hope my podcast work ethic skill discussion offers a little insight for their application in your workplace.
Think about leaders you have worked for, collaborated with, admired, disliked or just plainly didn’t understand. More specifically consider the different strategies they used to make important decisions, create partnerships, turn down an opportunity or motivate employees to move forward to a greater service level. Can you recall any leader using Inaction As A Strategy?
Inaction As A Strategy is a very simple course of action. If there is a problem, conflict issue or progressive decision that needs to be made…and the leader is not ready to address it, inaction is often an accepted strategy. But is Inaction As A Strategy a good one? How about if we toss out a TOP 10 list of evaluation questions that measure it?
- Is choosing to do nothing sending a progressive message?
- As a leader will people understand your position if inaction is your plan?
- Are you automatically falling behind as an organization if you stand still and be inactive?
- What about customers…do they benefit from inaction?
- If the New York Times was doing an article on your use of Inaction As A Strategy would the article be a positive one?
- If now is not a good action time…what would make a later time better?
- Can you give examples of using Inaction As A Strategy that were beneficial?
- If your Board used Inaction As A Strategy for any issue…would you be happy?
- Do all the changes in technology make Inaction As A Strategy more or less appropriate?
- Finally, would the leaders you admire most be proud or sad if you used an inactive strategy on a critical issue?
Yes…yes I can hear all the voices reminding me that no two issues are the same and maybe waiting to make a decision/take an action would be most appropriate.
Regardless, my TRIPLE III TIME advice: Re-read the TOP 10!
As discussed in other TRIPLE III TIME messages, I never know when or where an appropriate topic idea for this blog may present itself. Well for the last couple weeks I have been involved in an organizational conflict concerning the use of traditional company marketing colors and promotional designs. One small group is very much intent on venturing out and using more new-age colors but conforming to the use of traditional logos and designs. The larger business operations group is very much against “stepping-out” from tradition and has even sought high level backing for their stand on “keep it the same!”
I will bet 99% of those reading this TRIPLE III TIME message are waiting for me to recommend “Just go for it…be innovative…try something new…stay fresh…avoid the we have always done it this way trap!” But remember there are always SO many extra considerations to both sides of any issue.
Well for this week I am going to recommend considering the COMPROMISE option. Today I believe every side in a decision-making situation would benefit greatly from assuming a compromise position. Think about it. If we regularly assume an all or nothing position on every issue…there will never be a spirit of unified success.
With regard to this branding/marketing example, only compromise will make both groups feel successful and look forward to working together tomorrow. If the small group wins their satisfaction will be short-lived. Why, because the larger group has greater influence and connections…so the “distancing” will continue on and be part of the next challenge.
So who really wins??
This week we are “analyzing” job descriptions. Have you looked at yours…or anyone’s job description lately? When you read through it…do you feel it provides you with work limitations…or does it serve as a guide for setting priorities for solidly performing your day job? Finally does a review of your job description leave you with a feeling of empowerment…or an ability to proclaim in so many areas: “Hey that’s NOT my job!”?
Too many times in too many workplace situations the wording contained in a job description drives down creativity and innovation. Think about it. Do people really look at their job description to measure WHAT ELSE they could be doing…or determining the limits of what they have to do? And even when you see that little sentence that says: “All other duties as assigned by leadership…isn’t it sad to believe that you have to be told to do a little extra?!
This weeks TRIPLE III TIME message: Job Descriptions: Setting Limits or Setting Priorities is intended to impact both employers and employees. First don’t use job descriptions as “its not my job” hiding places. There truly isn’t a more continuing improvement defeating phrase. Second, leadership should not construct job descriptions that contain words which lead to employment limiting interpretations. Instead use terms that encourage assuming additional assignments and suggesting professional improvement.
I understand job descriptions have a valuable purpose. My questions is: Do your job descriptions limit employee potential or provide priority guidance for growth and opportunity?
How are you best motivated? And/or as a leader…how do you motivate people/groups to be better? Do you use bribery…money, time off or maybe even a promotion? Or do you go the other route and try intimidation…threats or demotion/dismissal from the job??!!
I believe to be effective…really effective on the job and/or as a leader, you must know your own personal motivation “ignitors” and your style of motivating those you are responsible for.
Looking back my Dad utilized a Motivate With Challenges technique for getting my brothers and I to take on more responsibilities on the farm. It would start with words like:
- “Kids your age aren’t ready to drive a tractor this big!”
- “Your cousins take care of more calves than 10…but you guys aren’t ready.”
- “Ma thinks it will take you 3 days to finish hoeing this field of beans…I said 2…but she is probably right.”
Over these early years the Motivate With Challenges occurrences were many and I can testify that we exceeded every expectation…every time!
Without a doubt during my career I have utilized the Motivate With Challenges approach personally and professionally…most of the time with a great deal of success. Quiet, subtle but steady…this style of motivation is uniquely contagious. It does not drive motivation via rewards or threats…rather the motivation comes more from within each person/persons being motivated.
Self-assess your motivation priorities and maybe start with your “roots”.
There could never be a better time than right NOW to strategize about Setting GOALS for yourself. Short-term and long-term… personal and professional… it is time to get out those legal pads (or maybe dial up an Excel spreadsheet) and begin the process of mapping out some important goals for yourself for the upcoming year(s)!
This month’s “Setting GOALS” Inspiring Innovations LEARNING MOMENTS podcast discusses my TOP 10 ideas for getting started with your plan. Remember to have fun with Setting (YOUR) GOALS! Enjoy the podcast.
One of my promises to the American Society For Pubic Administration (ASPA) publication group was that INNOVATION would always be my principle area of focus for my quarterly article. Well as you read the 2025 Public Administration Retreat Agenda piece, I hope you are able to place yourself in a public sector leadership role and maybe dream a little bit about priority topics and related potential discussion.
Progressively dreaming forward into the year 2025 should NOT be a “stretch” … rather just a natural step forward. So don’t simply read the article… participate in it.
I would guess that most reading this TRIPLE III TIME message have heard the host of one of those TV game shows report the correct answer to a certain question by announcing: “And The Survey Says…!” And no matter if the contestant is right or wrong in their guess…the surveyed answer often is unique or surprising to the audience. So here’s the leadership question: Do you use the survey tool to help get a better awareness/understanding of your businesses status/impact?
During my entire professional career I have used a survey strategy to assist in making future planning decisions. Now don’t assume that I prepared a classic research survey instrument with all of the “bells and whistles” that one finds in science/administrative journals. No, most times I relied on putting together no more than five (5) basic questions regarding our service to customers, agency performance, public position, whatever…and just calling/emailing caring people to just get their input. In some situations I would even ask the people I contacted to continue the “survey” with someone they knew to get more thoughts/opinions. The goal was to obtain quality input with no pressure, expectations, timeframes or detailed discussion…just genuine reaction.
I believe authenticity sometimes gets lost or distorted by perceived expectations when seeking someone’s input. By utilizing an occasional, simplistic “And The Survey Says…!” approach to information/opinion gathering, your opportunity to get frank help on “what next” can be effective and efficient. No you will not get the anticipated perfection elements you may be looking for…but remember perfection really doesn’t exist.
This TRIPLE III TIME message is targeted to every employing business and organization… and inclusive of both the private and public sectors. And as you read along, think about whether your Personnel Policy Handbook has a small section totally devoted to Job Shadowing? In these times of worker shortages and the multiple efforts to identify new, good employees, consider how open your group is to allowing Job Shadowing?
I believe the simple action of offering Job Shadowing in your workplace is a totally over-looked opportunity by future job candidates and every employing organization. Most people really have very little knowledge about what happens on a day-to-day basis and the production expectations of jobs in all fields of employment. This knowledge/awareness gap is even magnified today given the heightened workplace health concerns and increased use of technology.
What am I recommending? First consider the following questions:
- Do you/your company really, progressively employ Job Shadowing opportunities?
- Does your business have a written policy promoting it?
- Can you even name one (1) person as a past Job Shadowing example?
- Where do you promote/advertise that we (our organization) endorse Job Shadowing?
- Is our Job Shadowing policy open to everyone or maybe just high school and college students? (Why limited?)
Today I think all employers need to adopt a pro-active approach to Job Shadowing. Do NOT wait to be asked if someone can job shadow in your workplace…ADVERTISE IT! Also do NOT assume people know what work gets done inside your workplace… ACCURATELY TELL THEM. Job Shadowing may be a key short and long-term recruitment benefit!