Creating An Environment For Innovation

Charles Darwin is long remembered for informing us, based on years of study as a naturalist and biologist, that it is not the strongest of the species that survives, but rather, the one most adaptable to change.

At least partly for this reason, business owners and global executive leaders rather predictably call for significant innovation when crafting their annual business growth plans.

Be this innovation grounded in expected technological advances, market research, organisational restructuring or hefty financial investment, the linkage between better results and doing something new or perhaps even bold has never been stronger.

There are, after all, a great many examples of people and enterprises taking small ideas and changing the world, along the way enriching themselves and their stakeholders. That's the kind of result the Chief Executive Officer wants to realise, and no doubt, you and your teams as well.

And there are likewise many business tales about the cost of standing still, of watching customers and markets change around them, and ultimately, realising it's simply too late to save the company.

So, if your company's greatest potential for innovation hasn't yet been realised, what's been holding it back?

That is a serious question worth asking and worth exploring until one can gain some answers particularly if you and your team have been tasked with ideating the next big thing for your enterprise.

For in order to innovate, one must operate in an environment where such exploration and risk is encouraged and rewarded. Further, one must find the time and resources to commit intense study and focus to just one pursuit at a time when the pressure to multitask and deliver results on multiple projects remains.

If one were to ask Darwin, today, about what to expect on the road to a true breakthrough, it may well be that setting up the dynamics and environment for innovation must indeed come before the great success. That is, there may be bureaucracy, internal politics and/or stubborn managers stuck in their old ways standing in the way of agility and change.

Darwin himself is also credited with this quote:

To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact!

Especially true in these times. The implication for today's global executive is that one must study whether the organisation has the ingredients, the environment, the culture and also the true resolve to innovate. Much like a scientist studying the natural world, one must assess whether the pre-conditions for life, or, in this case, for breakthrough discoveries that can revolutionise or accelerate the business are present or not.

By carefully considering the opportunities as well as the obstacles to innovation, one should be able to see the potential for great success more clearly. This improved vision could translate into a defined set of actions required to nurture experimentation.

If your mandate is to innovate, or to drive innovation, you would be well served to understand whether you have the people and the will to fight through organisational barriers. Otherwise, you might only realise that despite the rhetoric about change, your company only wants to keep spinning its old wheels.

Finding Your Real Allies In The Organisation

There are lots of different personality archetypes within today's modern, global corporations. Just be careful not to judge a book by its cover. Seasoned executives are continually being surprised, and in some cases, utterly humbled, by experiences that shattered their spot judgments and biases.

To accelerate the pace of change in any organisation, savvy global executives already know they must earn and enlist the support and trust of business colleagues and confidants whose internal influence is critical to moving in the direction of something new.

These are the people to whom others go for insight, guidance and support in good times and in bad. These are, very much, the unsung heroes of the organisation. They are the employees who go the extra mile, consistently, to ensure the trains run on time, that leaders project their best image to the rest of the organisation, and who work until the job is done.

They are the people who care most not only about what gets done, but how it gets done. They understand how the organisation defines right and wrong, and they challenge problems when they see them.

Odds are you already know who we're talking about here. You already know someone - a person on your team, or with whom you interact on business affairs from time to time - who qualifies as a real all-star. Someone who exhibits true example, work ethic, attitude and consistent commitment to excellence makes them memorable and admirable and must rank among your very best employees.

The people who define the culture of your organisation and who already wield the most social capital, because of who they are and how they treat others, are your best possible allies. Find a way to tap and align with their credibility, and you will be capable of realising the change you want to make.

Navigating To The Boardroom. Thriving When You Get There

For many global executives, an appointment to the corporate boardroom as a non-executive director marks the pinnacle, defining moment of their business careers. The call to serve in such a critical governance position is an invitation many accomplished leaders deserve, but few actually get to savour. It is, most often, the result of exceptional business performance, purposeful relationship building and career planning, and a reputation forged by hard work, commitment and a superb reputation.

Yet, the historic profile of a compelling board candidate - and a successful non-executive director - continues to morph into a far more complex and time-consuming role than ever before. The non-executive director's role is the subject of growing scrutiny by activist investors, the media and politicians alike. If getting to the boardroom isn't enough, thriving once you get there is a challenge only the most accomplished and determined global executives will realise.

The potentially existential threats to today's corporate boards - and the historic view of effective corporate governance - come in a variety of forms these days. These include:

  1. Bids by activist investors to gain access to the corporate proxy, essentially using it as a vehicle to nominate their own director candidates
  2. Mounting threats posed by cyber-security breaches, often targeting corporate records of customers' credit card and personal data, and exposing companies and their directors to damaging media headlines and extensive data recovery and other costs
  3. The increasingly complex nature of corporate finance, including the shell game of classifying corporate revenue under a variety of labels, leading to the obfuscation of the facts and confusion among directors
  4. Challenges related to effective CEO succession and compensation, which can turn from highly politicised, somewhat "untouchable" topics for sitting boards to an organisational crisis faster than most directors realise
  5. Being seen as disconnected from stakeholders.

Calls for reforms in corporate governance have moved some governments to legislate the composition of today's non-executive boards, reserving a required quota for female directors. Further, calls to diversify today's boards continue to mount and put those boards built purely on "the good 'ole boys club" under increasing pressure to seat new members who reflect the company's consumer base.

A stellar reputation, superb business acumen and experience, and exceptional relationships are still very much the same things that can take your executive career to the non-executive board. But the job description is changing. The non-executive's role has become a time-consuming responsibility, and one that requires an increasing amount of homework, independence and due diligence just to keep up with the pace of change and reform.

The human, interpersonal dynamics that shape the very function of today's boards remain critical to success in the boardroom. So, too, does the open-mindedness that moves that silent voice inside to remind you - either as a new director or a veteran of the boardroom - that the rules of the game are changing and those best able to adapt are the ones most likely to thrive in the future.

The Importance Of Trust

Trust is an incredibly valuable business currency for today's global leaders. If you don't have it, you better get it - fast - because it can really slow your organisation down. If you do have it, the trust of employees in particular is something every manager should seek to deepen.

In today's global corporate environments, trust fosters employee engagement. Trust helps to create and solidify company culture. It gives everyone a reason to believe what they are doing really matters and who they are doing it for really does, too. A trusting bond between managers and their direct reports helps fuel effective communication. It helps both parties clear up ambiguity and get to the heart of important business matters.

Trust breaks down barriers. Trust enlists personal investment in the company's objectives. And trust makes it all worth doing, and doing well. Trust flows like a river where self-aware leaders go to quench their thirst and occasionally pour new waters into.

Yet, the reality for many global executives is that their companies may see - or continually fail to recognise - a trust deficit that prevents them and their employees from reaching their full potential. Just knowing there is a lack of trust in an organisation is a very informing starting point. Even the simplest of employee surveys on the matter of trust can uncover loads of actionable intelligence.

If you are operating in an environment where trust is running thin or present only among employees with a particularly gifted leader as their manager, it is indeed time to reflect on what workers must see to begin to believe again. Ask yourself, "What do workers need to see that will connect the promises you or the company has made to them to actual action on those same promises?". Or consider, "What would workers need to see or hear from me as a manager that would connect my own words and actions?" Or even, "What can I show them that will demonstrate a commitment to them?"

Trust isn't built overnight. And it surely isn't granted in bulk. Trust is a reflection of a worker's own experience with their manager, their colleagues, and others who collectively either represent what the company says it represents or simply fail to do that. Trust is an essential ingredient for business growth. If you can build trust among your employees, you will invariably build the resources to achieve great things. You may just be surprised, however, at just how quickly lots of little, seemingly minor interactions, promises and follow actions can get you where you want to go.

Trust in that journey, and you will probably earn more trust than you and your organisation have today.

Remote Work Brings Talent, Profits, Collaboration & Much More
linkedin.com

Remote work has proven to work well across the world. The following insights by Chris Swan explore practical ways your business can optimise virtualisation:

  • Global Pool Talent Means Greater Productivity & Profitability
  • Closing Offices = Cost Savings & Collaboration
  • Virtual-Savvy Leaders Must be Agile, Engaged, and Empathic
  • More Benefits for Businesses and Beyond

Read "Remote Work Brings Talent, Profits, Collaboration & Much More" leadership insights

The Challenge for Global Leaders and Learners

The challenge for global leaders and learners (those terms should almost be synonymous) is to learn how to adapt to changing business currents and how to selectively engage the experience and insights that have served us well in the past while embracing new knowledge and a new sense of open-mindedness for whatever comes next.

Part of this new playbook for professional and managerial growth is to make some well thought out investments in the next generation of leaders who may, sooner perhaps than you might have previously imagined, be successors to some of the most pivotal roles in your enterprise. Perhaps even yours!

You see, mentoring, encouraging and acting to promote promising younger stars in our modern-day, highly interconnected global organisations is not only part of the chemistry for future growth we need to achieve ambitious goals, but also the means through which we see business opportunities through a different lens and build the internal support for seizing them.

Insights from "Providing Opportunities for Next Generation Leaders".

The Key Challenges and Opportunities in Human Resources - A Study by TRANSEARCH Romania

"Never let a good crisis go to waste" as Winston Churchill famously said. COVID-19 and the impact on people, operations and business give us an impetus to develop fresh ideas in Human Resources and to review Leadership Skills.

During the last weeks we received valuable feedback from our clients and candidates; their approach to the ongoing changes, and how they intend to come out of this crisis even stronger!

We are delighted to share our findings with you. The original survey was conducted distributing a questionnaire; to over 300 CEOs, Managing Directors and Human Resources Managers in Romania and across Europe.

Key Findings:

  • Maintaining efficiency while working from home
  • Maintaining motivation and engagement
  • Improving organization's agility and flexibility
  • Leading through change with an entrepreneurial spirit underpinned by emotional intelligence
  • Need for profiles in Automatization/Robotics, Digitalization and Transformation/Change

For more information please visit TRANSEARCH International Romania on LinkedIn.

Allowing Yourself To See With New Perspective
transearch.com

It would be understandable, and maybe even predictable, if we begin to wonder whether what we know, what we have learned and how it all applies in today's business environment still matters in a world that has seen so much change and disruption in such a short amount of time.

While it would be easy to get lost in the business or general news headlines of our times, we should pause and consider where we have been and where we may need to go to play to our strengths as executives and as leaders of people.

Read "Allowing Yourself To See With New Perspective" leadership insights

Human Capital as an Asset
weforum.org

"The devastating labour-market impact of the pandemic and the need for governments to step in and provide extensive support have made it clear that a financially incentivized business model driven by short-term wins no longer works; public and media focus on how companies manage their human capital resources is intensifying."

This report from the World Economic Forum seeks to provide a human capital accounting framework that values talent as a key asset to contribute to an organisation's sustained value creation.

Read "Human Capital as an Asset" leadership insights

Critical talent management actions

Talent management is a system within a system: the organisation's culture. Get talent management wrong and the organisation's culture will be misaligned with the customer's emerging needs. Critical talent management actions to turn the organisation's talent management approach into a competitive advantage include:

  • Leadership development
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Storytelling
  • Performance management
  • Succession and replacement
  • Talent acquisition
  • Team excellence

Tomorrow, of necessity, talent management will be about resilience, reinvention and recognising that the ideal organisation design reflects how, given a choice, people would choose to work together. Investing in the most efficient way to develop talent, putting muscle behind the succession process and, generally, building a cadre of leadership talent, will allow your business to survive and thrive in turbulent times.

Insights from "Future-Oriented Leadership Competencies: Today's Talent Management Lynchpin" by John Burdett, Leadership advisor to TRANSEARCH International.

Integrating New Leaders with Virtual Onboarding
bedfordgroup.com

In the current talent environment, doing everything possible to protect your investment in a strategic hire means committing to a strong Leadership Integration process. An effective process provides the framework for defining what success means for a new leader. The specific design parameters for a virtual Leadership Integration program will vary based on the unique features of the organisation and the demands of the role.

Bedford/Teal set out core elements that should be included in a best in class virtual onboarding program, including:

  • Understand their technology needs
  • Ensure onboarding goals are clearly defined
  • Provide a copy/framework of the on-boarding plan
  • Establish a personal reach out process
  • Provide an opportunity to debrief from the recruitment/search process

Read "Integrating New Leaders with Virtual Onboarding" leadership insights