My bi-weekly link collection, including: innovation, continuous improvement, and sales metrics
In some ways, yes. In other ways, no. The pursuit of perfection is one of the hallmarks of craftspeople. When developers care about their work on a personal level, customers receive the best value. The RIS model, where developers interact directly with clients, encourages this craftsperson approach and results in highly custom solutions to clients' exact needs. As Dave Nicolette describes, the "end result is so much better than when the work is done carelessly by people who aren’t fully engaged with their occupation."
In 2008, Gatorade was struggling to compete against Powerade, despite an aggressively expanded line of energy drinks. However, Gatorade reinvigorated growth by expanding their offerings to pre- and post-workout nutrition products, which was an incremental innovation focused on their core customers' (athletes') needs. This "Third Way," a product family approach to innovation, allows a company to deepen their ties with their core customers by providing more value and strengthening their core branding. Instead of risky disruptive innovations, this style of innovation leverages existing strengths and relationships to power growth.
We've talked before (here) about the importance of continuous improvement and how to incorporate it into small and medium businesses without necessarily adopting the full lean and/or six sigma frameworks that work well in large enterprises. For small and medium businesses, it is most important to foster a culture of "step-by-step improvement in productivity and quality, practiced by staff at all levels," ensuring that people feel needed, supported, and valued as individuals along the way. Soliciting small ideas at staff meetings is a good place to start. "Celebrate small ideas, wait for ideas to come even if this means a pause in discussion. Help your team realize they have two roles – doing their normal tasks and activities, and contributing improvement ideas."
Being able to admit when things aren't going right is part and parcel of continuous improvement. Unfortunately, many cultures discourage admitting mistakes, making it less likely that everyone in the organization will contribute to improvement. Laura Delizonna offers a few tips for improving psychological safety on teams:
- Approach conflict as a collaborator, not an adversary
- Speak human to human
- Anticipate reactions and plan countermoves
- Replace blame with curiosity
- Ask for feedback on delivery
- Measure psychological safety
The proliferation of metrics has led some management teams to measure everything. The result is metrics overload. "Managers don’t have a clear sense of what is really driving sales in their business" and salespeople are buried in dozens of metrics, unable to cut through the noise to use the metrics to impact their decision making. The article suggests focusing on leading metrics (e.g. demos, web registrations, calls, or C-suite-level meetings), which offer "real-time feedback on whether salespeople are spending their time and efforts in the best way."
Countering burnout and ensuring that junior and mid-level employees love their job is a common focus in businesses. However, it is just as important for senior executives to be engaged and love their jobs. Jacob Morgan presents some of the ways that executives find meaning in their jobs and avoid burnout.