The primary goal of leadership is to have influence. Leaders should have the answers. They don’t need help. Right?
Wrong. Attaining leadership is more complicated than it might seem. How about leading through power and authority? Lead the way. This, too, has inherent limitations.
Why? What if he doesn’t know the way? What if this (whatever-it-is) has never been done? Power and authority only get you so far. They have a limited sphere of influence. They can maintain the status quo and strengthen boundaries. They might even extend borders, build strong walls, control or mitigate bad outcomes, contain and constrain you-name-it. A leader who wields power and authority to get stuff done inherently imposes his ‘way’, which is, by definition, limited.
On the other hand, the leader who has the courage to be vulnerable immediately creates opportunity for all possibilities. She opens the door to the unknown. She invites change, collaboration, discovery, evolution, growth, innovation, invention, questioning, transformation, and transparency.
The leader’s job is to enable this environment and provide a framework within which her team can influence reaching whatever goal lies ahead.
Are you courageous enough to be vulnerable?
Courtesy: Glenn Lopis at Entrepreneur
Innovation Metrics seems like a paradox. Innovation is Thinking Outside the Box, it’s spontaneous, it’s dynamic. Metrics are measurements. Not only are metrics the box, they are the specific geometry of that box.
But Innovation Metrics are valid and useful, and implementing them can give you greater insight into the mysterious black box of creativity and spontaneity that many think innovation is.
There are three basic areas to measure when doing these metrics:
The Processes lie between the inputs and the outputs, but are often the mysterious black box where innovation happens. Inputs and Outputs are more obvious thing to measure.
Start with what you have and measure those things (e.g. new people, new strategies). Measure how the new strategies are communicated throughout the firm.
Start simple. Once you begin getting insights you can make your metrics more granular. An important start to innovation metrics is deciding what to measure. You should not try to take in all the data and measure everything. Keep it simple. Do a check after a few weeks. Are we measuring the right things?
Your company is already using metrics. One of the most important aspects of using innovation metrics is having a common language in the firm around innovative processes. Think about how you can use current methodologies and their lingo and apply them to your innovation strategy.
Do not merely measure for the sake of measuring. What are the metrics telling you? If they are not telling you anything useful, get rid of them. Applying an innovation methodology means not being afraid to scrap the methodology. It is not because of fear of change, but because it isn’t relaying valuable information.
This is what Stuart Hamilton has called “The Curse of the Methodology”.
The Curse of the Methodology: Instead of having the PM work out what needs to be done and then the PM taking care of it, (all behind the scenes), there emerged methodologies (PMP or otherwise) that try to ensure that the PM follows the menu of daily activities. Don’t get me wrong, a lean methodology to enforce good governance is a good thing, but on my last engagement, every project (big or small) had to lodge a minimum of 21 documents, and often as many as 40. These documents are lengthy, repetitive, and take weeks of the PM and other team members to fill out. Then they all go into the archive where they will never be read.
In the end, the most important thing is to have a common language in the firm in which to communicate about innovation and outcomes. It does not matter as much what methodology of metrics you use as much as it matters that everyone is using the same one, with the same language, conveying the same goal.
In this article by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), they share a study by Harvard Business School reporting that CEOs spend 60% of their time in meetings and 25% on the phone and events, with the balance (15%) going to everything else. Whether your ‘free’ time is 15% or 50%, how you spend it is key to whether you are investing it or simply spending it. Now is the time for reflection.
We, too, have found that time can be spent unwisely, with limiting decisions (from poor planning) that lead to unclear goals and lack of clarity. This quickly turns into lots of questions, is often accompanied by low energy. Fear eventually takes over, resulting in a reaction plan.
On the contrary, empowering decisions that invest in the future typically lead to higher energy and a sense of gratitude about the situation. This clarity on the end goal is accompanied by strategic questions and the courage (determination, faith) to take decisive action that moves ever closer to the end goal.
You might ask, what is the common denominator between thought and reflection (as highlighted by BCG) and an investment in empowering decisions? The answer: an investment is foundational and long-term, whereas ‘solving immediate problems’ is situational and short-term (i.e., putting out fires).
BCG notes the value in allowing some structure and schedule to allow time to step back and consider the big picture and long term. In so doing, having the perspective from an outsider (whether it be a trusted partner from within your industry or an advisory board from outside your industry) helps provide a level of honesty and accountability that goes beyond the immediate ‘need’ to put out (forest) fires, helps avoid fires in the first place, and may even chart a path beyond the edge of that forest to whatever it is that you dream about achieving.
Please read further to enjoy The Rewards of CEO Reflection.
How much money is tied up in Inventory? Does your company turn Inventory at least 12 times or more? If the answer is ‘no’, there is an opportunity to improve Cash Flow substantially.
Small to mid-sized businesses don’t usually have an ERP system (Enterprise Requirement Planning) to control their Inventory. Based on the demand and time they need to reorder the inventory items, SMBs (Small Business Owners) keep typically between two or three months of Inventory in stock or, in other words, they turn Inventory between four and six times a year.
A company with annual Sales of $2,000K and a Gross Margin of 40% has annual Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) of $1,200K. The company turns Inventory four times per year, therefore carrying three months of Inventory or, in this case, $300K.
If the company can improve Inventory Turns to 12 per year, only one month in Inventory, or $100K, is needed. The company just freed up $200k in cash by improving their Inventory Turns. The cash can be used to reduce a loan or is available for future investments and growth.
How do you improve your Inventory Turns? Lean principles like a two-bin system, just-in-time deliveries, and a defined supply chain are just some methods for improving Inventory Turns.
There was a disruption in your business recently and now it is time to do an analysis and report to your Board about the incident. This is your chance to be a Leader or demonstrate that you may not be in charge of your business.
I was working with a client recently and, during a break, I was having a quick conversation with their Director of Finance. He told me how much respect he had for the CEO, and I asked why. He told me that each month he attends the Board Meetings with the CEO to cover off the financial aspects of the business.
He told me that anytime the CEO needed to advise the Board on any recent challenges, he never once pointed the finger at any of the employees. The CEO’s only comment, when asked who had the problem, was that he is in charge and the buck stops here. The Director of Finance also told me that when there was a great accomplishment to discuss, the CEO always gave credit to the employee or employees involved.
After a few meetings, the Director of Finance mentioned what he was observing and hearing to his peers on the management team. They were stunned, they had never worked for a person who was quite like this CEO.
What a great example of a Leader!! Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if you could be compared to that CEO.
If you are the CEO, President, Owner or Founder, you are in charge. Do you act like it? Do you have the kind of respect and trust that this CEO’s team and Board obviously have of him?
If not, then Who’s in Charge?