We’re our own best options for change and success, but we still have to develop the right tools to be high performers. So we’re focusing on you and what you can do to improve your own operating system.
Fuel up. What do you do first thing, check your emails? Go home? Post yet another pic of the cat on Facebook? Don’t. Carve out a 20-minute space for mental charging every day. Listen to a great podcast. Read a new paper on a fresh subject. Read a report from a blue chip industry source. Now. Start that to-do list you made the night before. Then do it.
Stand up people. Your entire energy levels change when you stand. Unsurprisingly, the entire energy level of a team meeting does too. Try it. Convert just one of your meetings to a stand up and see what happens.
Shut up. Ever heard of active listening? It’s when you listen properly to what people are saying and DO NOT interrupt them. Try it for a whole week – it’s harder than you think – but it is a major innovation in attention. Plus you’ll learn much more about the people you listen to – and yourself.
As part of a research project ranking business study courses, a Bloomberg study asked over a thousand recruiters what skills they look for in professionals but can’t find. The ‘sweet spot’ included four sets of innovation skills that are seen as less common in candidates but sought-after right across industries. These are strategic thinking, creative problem-solving, leadership skills and communication abilities.
Other key things they look for, although not quite in the highly desired/less common spot, included analytical thinking ability and the ability to work collaboratively.
So how can you gear up on these skills? Start with three of the Harvard Innovation Lab’s recommendations for success:
Hang out with people who are not like you. Diverse backgrounds and thinking are critical sources of health hybrid creativity. To create space and room to hear them, you have to be able to communicate well. And good communication starts with curiosity and learning to really listen (see above).
Be a serial learner. As per the recommendations above – fire up your intellectual curiosity and learn stuff. New learning feeds your thinking and enhances the range of resources you can apply to a problem.
Be focused when executing. Learn heaps but when you’re applyingyourself, be laser-like about what you’re up to. You can chase the big idea for sure, but develop it in clear, well-determined steps.
Plan for resilience. Getting ‘there’ is a messy business and often anything but linear. So prepare for setbacks and troughs. You can restart your energy and creative potential by asking each other – or yourself – smart questions. If you feel stuck, create space. Get a whiteboard and pens, and start thinking: analysing, reflecting, generating fresh ideas about ways for improving and taking a new step forward. Ask some tough questions and look for unconventional solutions like: What would we do if we had just been given this project as a client and tasked with testing and potentially replacing the current approach? Your minds are the best resources, but only when they’re wide open.