Career strategy

How to drive an innovation culture in your team (leadership hack)

Driving innovation in our team is fundamental to the modern digital leader. Here is a method to help you foster innovation and provide forward-looking feedback to the team. 

The Innovation Economy = an Idea Economy

As leaders, we are always dealing with ideas and concepts. We’re living in the idea economy, an innovation economy. And in an innovation economy, we must keep coming up with great ideas, see which ones we want to test, test them out. And then, when they’re proving themselves, you roll them out as products or projects. And in any organization, when you look at all the ideas that are generated, not all of them become great products or great projects, only a small percentage of them become meaningful.

What does that tell you about most of the ideas that are created at the workplace? Are they all good? They’re not. So what do you do when you hear ideas from others and how do you, how does a great leader provide them feedback so that you know those people don’t feel disheartened if it’s a bad idea, but at the same time get the right amount of feedback?

FLIP: the framework to encourage more innovation in your team

Because you want to keep that innovation cycle going by encouraging others, and at the same time, you have to give them candid feedback. Here is a hack. It’s a framework called FLIP.

It is a leadership hack that I learned at a workshop many years ago.

Let’s dive into it.

Part 1: Favorite

F.L.I.P. starts with F, which is favorite. When someone comes to you with an idea, you start with the most favorite part. Which is ‘here are the favorite things about your idea’, ‘here is the thing that I liked’, right?

Part 2: Least Favorite

And after you’re done with that favorite thing, then you talk about ‘L’ which is the least favorite. Here are the things about your idea that I did not like. Or they’re not going to work, or they have these issues or gaps, right?

Part 3: Insight

When you are done with that, share the next part of the framework, which is ‘I’, which is Insight. You can share an industry insight or an insight about customers or product or what have you so that you are able to move that idea a little bit forward or you provide more clarity to that idea.

Step 4: Problem Restatement

Last but not least is ‘P’ is Problem, which is you restate the problem that you’re trying to solve, or your team is trying to solve.

When you restate the problem statement, you provide even more clarity to the other person in terms of what needs to be solved. And that’s how you use the F.L.I.P. model so that you can provide great feedback to the other person. It helps the other person with a couple of things.

  1. Number one, they feel that they are heard, which they are.
  2. The second thing is they do understand that there were some good things about their idea, which is always good. That means it had some value.
  3. Then we talk about they understand what the gaps that they need to fix in their idea, and they understand what is the problem that needs to be solved.

Using FLIP is a great way to provide this feedback and keep the innovation cycle going in your organization.

Career strategy

Leaders Don’t Coast Along the Curve, they Push to Challenge

You are a leader. There could be multiple scenarios for your job performance. One scenario is where you’re making progress. You are driving change; you are driving transformation. That is the high-performance scenario. There could be another scenario where you’re not participating; you’re not engaging; you’re not contributing. Maybe you’re not interested, or perhaps you’re not incentivized for that role. Regardless, that is a low-performance scenario.

There is another scenario. It’s right in the middle. And, this is the scenario where you are doing just the minimum required for the job. You know, you’re just getting the checkmarks, you’re just doing the bare minimum thing needed for that job, and that is coasting or cruising. Unfortunately for some people, this becomes sort of the primary mode of operation. Let’s just do the minimum and just coast along.

Modern, transparent workplace will eradicate coasting

And I’ve got some bad news. The bad news is it only lasts for a little bit, for the short term. And that’s because, in the modern workplace, the coasting part is disappearing because of transparency. And so everything is transparent. The tools that you’re using for messaging, for communication, for collaboration, everything is in front of everybody in terms of the work you’re doing, the results you’re producing.

In a highly transparent environment, you owe it to yourself to perform to the best of your ability, to create value, to exceed expectations, and that’s how you stay on the high curve. And going on the coasting curve, it’s very risky. I would not recommend it. As a leader, you should be pushing the envelope.

Challenging yourself and challenging others. Don’t fall into this trap of coasting because a leader’s work is never done. You have to keep going, and you have to create value.

Career strategy

Business Transformation Represents New Opportunities in Saas and Cloud. Know-How to Grab it

One question I get a lot is, “I’m an industry expert, how do I get into SaaS and Cloud.” The answer is right in front of you. As you know, the software is eating the world. This means industries are just going through massive digital transformation, whether it’s healthcare, financial services, manufacturing. This is not just like a digital transformation or changing the technology.

This is a fundamental business transformation, a business model transformation. And that’s why this represents a massive career pivot point and an opportunity for so many industry experts, domain experts, management consultants out there. Because you’ve wanted for so long to ride on the SaaS and Cloud wave. You wanted to get into that business.

Growing fast, disrupting everything

It’s a high growth business, and it’s disrupting everything. On the other hand, a lot of these companies that are in the SaaS and Cloud business who are trying to address those industries, they want industry expertise. So, it’s a match made in heaven. Those companies that are disrupting specific industries like FinTech and HealthTech, they want industry expertise. They want industry experts like you. And you are looking to get into the SaaS wave.

This is setting us up for a match made in heaven. You need to figure out who are the companies that are trying to get into those particular industries. And then, you can pivot to a SaaS or Cloud career. And it’s not a hard pivot. You are taking all of your industry expertise and applying that to the service of solving specific problems in your industries using SaaS and Cloud capabilities.

Career strategy

Understand the Business Model to Create and Deliver Value

It is so important to understand the business model for a company. It helps to understand the drivers and the motivations for all the people that you work with. So, maybe it is for a company that you work for, perhaps you’d like to understand the business model of your customers or your competitors or your partners, your vendors. It doesn’t matter. But it’s fundamentally important to understand the business model of any company.

And at the core of it, a business fundamentally is doing three things. It is – 

  • Creating value, which is about creating value for its customers.
  • Then it is about capturing value, which is what we call as pricing. This is a way for the business to make some money, i.e., capture value.
  • And the third one is to deliver value to its customers.

This is where the business or that company is creating, not just creating value and capturing value, but delivering that value for their customers.

How does it help?

So, for example, let’s say, well, let’s take an example of a software business, right? Let’s say the software business is creating value for its customers. And maybe the way this software business creates value is by, let’s say, it lowers travel costs for its customers, right? So, this company is in the business of creating value by reducing travel costs for its customers. And it charges some money for that value it provides.

For example, maybe it helps its customers lower travel costs by $100. And then it captures $20. Let’s say the price for that product is $20. So it captures a fraction of the value that it creates. It sounds like a fair deal. You know, it reduces $100 in costs and keeps $20 as the price. And then it has to deliver the value. So, which means the software is implemented and the customer takes advantage of that software to lower the travel costs that they have within their company.

And so, this is an example of a business model for the software company. And you can take that same framework of a business model and understand the business model for your customers, for example, so that you can serve those customers better.

You can understand the motivation and the drivers of your customers so that you can make sure that the way you work with your customer is streamlined to their business model.

Career strategy

Why You Must Develop Soft Skills at Work to Wow Your Managers and Peers

You might’ve heard this comment in the workplace. It goes something like this. This person is so good at his work. If only he could develop some soft skills, he would be great. Now, what most people don’t realize is that soft skills are hard skills because they are the most critical skills necessary to be successful.

Things like

  • Showing empathy to customers and
  • Communicating your ideas, whether it’s verbally or in written format, or
  • Working collaboratively with as a team, with your co-workers and colleagues, or
  • Being adaptive,
  • Being creative,
  • Managing your own time,
  • Managing others’ time,

Soft skills allow you and other people around you to produce great results and excellent outcomes. As you go through your career journey, you’ll realize that soft skills become more important than hard skills or even technical skills. What do you think? Would you like to develop your soft skills even more?