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Friday, February 19, 2010

Ardent Believers

Innovation

All too often, an organization's strategy comes down from the corporate mountain and the Brand comes right out of the marketing department. Both are imposed on the most critical human resources—those at the bottom. How can you get the boots on the ground to become ambassadors of the Brand and the corporate strategy? How do you build an organization of 'ardent believers'?

As a major shareholder in an oil & gas exploration company, I know my way around a board room. It's funny how some things make perfect sense there on a white board, but none in the field. Instead, let’s develop a corporate strategy that’s not so specific as to impede the boots on the ground while still being free of corporate puffery. As my father likes to say, "Folks, everyone can say the word 'Tango'—damn few can dance!"

Once you've got a corporate strategy that's measurable and accountable (read: has dates and numbers not meaningless adjectives), go to the boots on the ground. Ask not what corporate can do for them, but what can they do for corporate. Challenge them to come up with local strategies that mirror the overall corporate strategy. Then reward those who make innovations that help achieve that strategy.

For example, if the corporate strategy is to cut production overhead by $1 million by the end of Q3, then the local managers could devise strategies like, running the power-hungry manufacturing processes at night when electricity is cheaper. Impose an over-simplified, silver-bullet strategy and watch your ego slump along with profits.

Build an organization of innovators and ardent believers by giving those at the bottom the authority to make small but meaningful changes you and your white boards wouldn't come up with in a million years.

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1 comment:

  1. Speaking of "Ardent Believers," have you read "Raving Fans?" A short, but worthwhile read: www.amazon.com/Raving-Fans.

    ReplyDelete

 
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