Seth Godin reminded us (as only he can) yesterday that we must find ways to humanize the work we do. Of course that can translate into providing value to the product you are making, the process you are creating, and you as an individual. The question we must continue to ask ourselves is how do we continually reinvent the wheel and create this value?
See value in yourself. In today’s world of participation trophies, this would seem like a no-brainer. In reality, we often just want to keep pace with those around us. People are afraid to speak up and take a stand on ideas they believe in, mainly because they are afraid of being fired or shamed. I’m not advocating that you shoot from the hip next time an idea floats between your ears, but if you have done your homework you should speak up. You were hired for a purpose, and it’s up to you to provide a return on that investment. Don’t let yourself be what’s in the way.
Don’t be redundant. Innovative products are created every day by analyzing the market and filling in the gaps. The same rule applies to your team. It can be tempting to be the bombastic leader that plants the flag in the ground and march away with the team behind you, but several of those on one team makes for a mess. Every boss I have worked for has appreciated the one person willing to tackle the tough tasks and come away with a win, no matter how small the win can be.
When you speak, be heard. Everyone’s heard the saying about each of us having opinions and the body part that is most akin. Instead of having an opinion, research your ideas. Find the loopholes in your argument, and be prepared for someone to bring them up. Finally, be prepared to not have your idea used. If you take that approach, you will not be someone that is listened to, you will be heard. Know the difference.
Be flexible with your process. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of sticking to the book. When a member of my team comes to me with an issue surrounding our process, I merely state, “Well, the book would tell you to not to do that…but let’s give it a shot!” Now, we can neither be so flexible that there is no structure to prop us up, nor can we keep ramming our heads into a brick wall expecting it to break. Let go of your precious cycle and let innovation in!
There are a million more ideas, these are just some of the opportunities I saw today that would provide value to me and my product. I must be on the look out, or I will become yet another nameless robot cranking out the same work as the person next to me.