Arash Arabi is a globally recognised transformation consultant, speaker, entrepreneur and author of The Wise Enterprise. His company Sprint Agile, uses an empirical approach to help businesses move from opinion-based decision making to evidence-based decision making. In this guest post, Arabi offers five easy tips to get any business moving…
The eigth law of learning organisations by Peter Senge states that “Small changes can produce big results, but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious.”. In this article five areas of high leverage are identified that organisations can exploit with minimal effort to produce big results and thrive.
1. Have an experimental approach
We now live in one of the most uncertain times in recent history. Technological advancements, globalisation, climate change, and recently the COVID-19 pandemic are some of the factors resulting in high levels uncertainty in the business world today.
When faced with uncertainty, we need to make decisions in a way that maximises our flexibility and adaptability. To do this, we need to find a way to empirically validate the outcome of our decisions before committing to them. We need to ask ourselves: “How can I design a small experiment to validate my hypothesis and gain more insight?”
There are various well-established techniques you can use to empirically validate your hypothesis. For example, you could use focus groups, research surveys, prototypes, or Agile frameworks to validate your hypothesis. Or you could simply implement your decision on a smaller scope before rolling it out to the broader context.
2. Encourage thoughtful disagreement
Every person perceives the world through their own lens, based on their life experiences, beliefs, and motives. It would be single-dimensional to make decisions only based on our own perception of the world. The most effective decision makers in the world actively solicit people who disagree with them so they can widen their perspective and have a multi-dimensional view when making decisions.
Ray Dalio, the American billionaire investor, has written about the importance of being challenged by people who disagree with him in his book, Principles: “What I wanted most from them was thoughtful disagreement … Going from seeing things through just my eyes to seeing things through the eyes of these thoughtful people was like going from seeing things in black and white to seeing them in colour. The world lit up.”
3. Foster creativity via regular ideation
Most leaders love to have a team that comes up with creative ideas proactively. One way you could promote creativity in your organisation is to run ideation sessions regularly.
In these ideation workshops we need to create a safe space for our team to come up with absurd and impossible ideas. No idea is wrong, and no one is allowed to criticise anyone. In ideation sessions no one is allowed to say “but that’s not going to work”, the only feedback allowed is constructive feedback. If you think something is not going to work, you are only allowed to say how to make it work.
4. Establish unstructured innovation time
Some years ago, as a result of an internal review, Hewlett-Packard found out that about a third of their most significant product innovations came from a single network of about 35 women in a specific office. This was quite a surprise for the managers as they found a disproportionate amount of innovation coming out of this single small group of women in an organisation with tens of thousands of people distributed globally.
Upon further investigation they found that these individuals were the women in the quilting circle. This perplexed the managers so they brough in these individuals to interview them and figure out what caused them to be so effective in innovating. They found that the fact that the people in the quilting circle had dedicated time to get together on regular basis to socialise and talk about various things in an unstructured way, has created a unique environment for reflection and exploration resulting in significant amount of innovation.
So, to foster innovation, you need to think how to create a venue like the quilting circle in your organising. A venue without an agenda or a specific problem to solve. A venue for people to get together on regular basis to do something they like to do, and to know each other better.
5. Invest in staff Emotional Intelligence education
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognise your own emotions and those of others. And to be able to manage and influence your own emotions and those of others. Mastering emotions will thus help you to become a better decision-maker and enable you to influence others to make better decisions.
There is a large body of knowledge available on how to improve your emotional intelligence. Particularly the works of Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis has gained a lot of popularity among business leaders.
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