Want to Innovate? Master the Basics

There’s a lot of talk about innovation these days, about new models for every organizational function. Companies are always trying to understand what they can do that’s a game changer for the industry. Here’s some advice: Master the basics first.

Too many junior managers, managers – even senior leaders — are searching for something that isn’t there: “easy” leadership and management models. At Brandon Hall Group, we see this all the time. One thing is pretty apparent after being in this business for well over 20 years: leadership is hard. It is sometimes messy. As a leader, when in doubt, focus on the basics – techniques that seasoned managers have learned over many years. Here are some tenets to live by:

  • Add value to clients. Sounds easy, but it’s not. We see many organizations start to become ineffective when decisions start to be more about them than about how they add value to clients – in both corporate and consumer businesses.
  • Respond quickly to clients. Even if you do not know the answer, respond ASAP, preferably immediately. Research shows that potential clients appreciate a fast response, even if you don’t have all the answers.
  • Be honest and direct. Brevity is best. It saves time, and your message does not get diluted in rambling discourses and long meetings.
  • Make decisions based on data, not just instincts. Too many managers make decisions with zero data, research or insight.That’s a problem. Then they wonder why the outcome is not what they wanted.
  • Stop whining. We all make choices. We all struggle at times. If you are not happy with your situation, whatever it is, review the choices you’ve made. Correct your course. Take action.
  • Hire motivated people. If you have to motivate employees constantly, you’ve hired poorly. If you’ve hired people who are not great, you’ve hired poorly. I would rather have a business that has tons of competitors and a great team of talented people versus an “innovative” company with just average talent.
  • Focus on building the business. Your career will advance as does the business.

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