Innovation and your rear view mirror

Don’t we all aspire to be innovators and get our companies to develop the next Tesla or Iphone. The truth is that we have to work quite hard to make innovation happen. See our earlier article about that HERE.

One of the behaviors I have seen frequently is that the new leader storms into the group, throws out all that is working or broken now and starts on a path to radical change of all processes and products. One of the problems with this approach is that you may make the same mistakes all over again as you have done in the past. You often hear that you need to know where you are coming from to be able to move where you want to go. Similarly a good driver, can only be safe and successful when they check the rear view mirror regularly.

Being held back by the past may be frustrating but learning from the past may speed up the change you are looking for.

The balance between your forward looking innovation and the look in the rear view mirror maybe found by ensuring you know what you are talking about, you understand why the processes and products are in place the way they are. If you don’t know and your team doesn’t know, it is probably urgent time for review.

Once you have made sure you know where you are coming from, you have a basis to spark the  creativity in the team and, after thorough review, test it and implement it. Here is the difference between creativity and innovation; creativity is developing something new, innovation is implementing something new. You can have creativity without ever getting to innovation, you cannot have innovation when there is no creativity.

Innovation does not have to be a brand new product, it can be a new process or a new way of handling customer service. With the innovation, the implementation of that great creative idea, the view in the rear view mirror is also still relevant and necessary.

You want to be a careful driver in your car, so do the same when working on creative change that will lead to innovation and prevent crashes. Use the rear view mirror but not too much or you’ll loose your way and may get to an unexpected stop.

A short note about a short list

Lists are powerful tools. You can however overdo it and not get any benefits out of your lists.

There are three main reasons to have a list;

  1. ToDo (action list)
  2. Goal setting (target list)
  3. Don’t forget (master list/bucket list)

There can be thousands of other reasons why you make lists, but those will be of a different nature, like a list of members, a list of your cds etc.

The trouble I see often with people making their TODO lists is that they overdo it. Where your Goal Setting list can be a list with dreams that you are striving for, your TODO list should be realistic and filled with obtainable tasks. You want that list to encourage yourself to get through the barrage of little tasks you need to work through to eventually get your goals accomplished. Once you make TODO lists that are too long or too cumbersome to get through, instead of a motivator (in the evening when looking back at a crossed out TODO list) it becomes a demotivator.

todo listThere is no hard and fast rule about how many items should feature on your daily TODO list, mine was 11 items yesterday and two of them got started but due to waiting for others to cooperate will feature on the list for today too.

There are many paper and electronic systems for your TODO lists, I use google keep but I used to work with “remember the milk” and I also have some lists stored in “evernote“. See what you like and what works for you.

Good luck with your TODOs, keep it short, keep it real, get it done!


Wellness at work

Wellness is a management program, not an HR initiative.

Many companies offer wellness initiatives. Here are a number of reasons why companies believe wellness initiatives should be organized;

  • recruitment and retention
  • lower health insurance costs
  • genuine care for employee’s wellbeing
  • maintain/improving productivity
  • avoid legal costs
  • improve employee’s morale

We are all very used to companies providing health insurance and the trend to offer wellness benefits is directly linked to it. From the above reasons the one lowering costs of Health Insurance was the most important one for about 74% of employers surveyed on the topic.

The reason employers offer health insurance (and not your church, subdivision or home owners association) is that back in the days, there was a freeze on pay (Stabilization act of 1942). In an effort to continue to be able to attract the best and the brightest, employers sought to increase the value of their package for employees and so they started to offer health insurance. Later the tax treatment began to take over as the main reason to offer the insurance and these days we don’t even question it anymore.

The wellness initiatives come in various shapes and forms, from friendly advice and information that gets distributed, to financial incentives to go for preventative health care and financial disincentives to maintain unhealthy habits.

As a manager what is your role in the wellness at work?

First you need to understand why you offer the wellness initiatives. Next you need to be happy with the impact on the employees of the various wellness offerings and thirdly you need to support the communication of the wellness initiatives.

All too often we see health and wellness programs totally run by the benefits- or Human Resources department. Although these departments will be able to offer expertise in setting the plans up and executing it in a responsible manner, they are not the decision makers over the resources of the company. Goal clarity is important and Management needs to set the goals and make sure employees know where this fits into the overall strategy of the company. Employees look at their management and will react depending on Management’s behavior. When management does not look to be in charge of the wellness programs, it will remain a benefit that lives on the sidelines of employee’s attention. However when Management fully supports and spearheads the decision to go for wellness programs and actively participates it can accomplish its goals. Offering wellness programs at work needs to be thought through carefully as the majority of the beneficiaries of your health plan are probably spouses and children of employees who not normally come to the company.

A good article about some simple yet very effective ways to get started is HERE

There is a lively debate about whether or not the wellness plans deliver on their promise to cut health insurance costs and one article capturing three studies is HERE

Meanwhile a huge business developed in wellness programs said to top $10 billion.

If you follow the theory from Herzberg about motivators and hygiene factors, it should be clear that wellness can never be a motivator but should be seen in the hygiene factor category, meaning that you need to treat it from a recruitment and retention perspective as a competitive benefit. No one joins a company solely for their wellness offering. People may however become dissatisfied with their package if it does not include wellness when their peers all enjoy it at their companies.

Looking at the wellness plans as a major factor in containing the cost of health insurance, turns the management decision to what will provide you with most cost-savings while not upsetting the competitiveness of the overall package.

Wellness is a management program, as all programs are that have an impact on costs to the company and the ability to attract and retain talent.