Henry Ford was once quoted to have asked the question: “Why is it that whenever I ask for a pair of hands, a brain comes attached?”
Too many companies ask this same question everyday. They may not verbalize it, but they ask it day in and day out by NOT asking the people that comprise their organizations questions like: “What do you think? Do you agree? How could we do this better?”
Ask is the second step in the SANE approach to innovation. Once you’ve set expectations that you want everyone to be involved in innovation, you have to start asking. Ask your team members to think outside the box. Ask them for their opinions. Ask them if they argee with you, rather than just telling them what YOU think.
Ask, Ask, Ask. “You have not, because you ask not.”
There are far to many mediocre “me too” companies out there playing catch up, with nothing innovative to show for themselves.
If you want innovation to become part of your organization’s culture, it has to start with YOU (the CEO, manager, team leader, etc). It starts with management innovation. It starts with humbleness, and waking up to the fact that you aren’t better than anyone else. By hiring other people, you’ve already admitted you can’t do everything by yourself, so why shoot yourself in the foot by insisting that you always know best?
Ford was an innovative man in his time, but the kind of thinking reflected in his quote above will only get you where Ford Motor Company is today – struggling and chasing a competitor that “gets it” (Toyota), because their competitor believes in the value of every individual employee.
Yes, your employees have brains! Why not encourage them to use them, rather than stifle innovation by reducing them to a role or a cog? Treat your team members/employees with the respect they deserve, ask them for their opinions and ideas, and start creating a culture of innovation today.