At first I hesitated when asked if I wanted to take a look at Lisa Bodell’s new book. Her somewhat startling title, Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution, made me wonder whether or not the topic would fit here. Well, it did that and more!
As employees, we’re often assigned new work methods that were designed without our input.
As managers, we’re often expected to implement work process improvements with one goal–to reduce costs.
As executives, we’re expected to develop more and more innovative ways to improve market share and share owner value.
No matter what your job, you play a killer role in the the company’s future and your own.
Lisa Bodell reveals in her new book, Kill the Company, what she does with corporate clients to shake up their thinking and bring real innovation to light. What’s unique here is that Bodell, as CEO of futurethink, “gives away” her model and numerous tools that liberate fresh thinking.
She proposes uncovering, in specific terms, how a competitor could “take the company down.” It’s a matter of asking employees and the leadership, given all the insider information they’re privy to, what it would take to “kill the company.”
It’s that knowledge that readies the company to take internal and external actions to survive!
The challenge for most companies isn’t how to get people to be more innovative; it’s how to stop paying lip service to innovation and create a structure and culture in which it can actually flourish and deliver results.
The traditional organizational structures…have innovation in a choke hold.
Too many change initiatives simply add another layer of processes to the to-do lists of already overwhelmed and tired employees….Innovation is supposed to make things better, not worse, easier, not more complicated.
Does this sound like your company? The way you’ve handled or experienced change? If so, it’s time to get serious about turning things around.
Not everyone gets to sit in the room where strategies to kill the company are identified and the remedies devised. Each of us, however, needs to make sure that we have what it takes to add value in our jobs for the future.
A stagnant job in a stalled company will kill our careers. Our resistance to innovation in a growing company will kill it too. That means we have to be ready to recognize and take advantage of the changes, both obvious and subtle, in our work environments.
Bodell makes this significant observation:
Soft skills are the new hard skills. You can see evidence of this everywhere…many CEOs and leaders now hail creativity and creative problem solving as the most important business skills.
Just what soft skills will employees need to possess and will organizations need to seek in the coming years? They will be the skills that help organizations challenge the status quo and look into the future, the ones that turn employees into visionaries and help them seek out opportunities and growth in new ways. They will be the skills that enable dedicated learners to handle the blessing and burdens of change.
Bodell identifies these five as the most valued skills in successful employees of the future:
- Strategic Imagination—“dreaming with purpose”–the ability to recognize the “driving forces changing our world and imaginative enough to harness this potential in a business context”
- Provocative Inquiry–“the ability to ask smart, even disturbing questions” that “stretch their own thinking and that of others”
- Creative Problem Solving–applying “best practices from offbeat sources and unrelated industries, making connections that others wouldn’t think of.”
- Agility–the ability “to think on their feet and nimbly change directions…to be resourceful and confident in their own abilities to handle unexpected situations.”
- Resilience–tenacity and “courage to overcome obstacles and push on undeterred” giving their organizations an advantage in good times and bad.”
The same principles that underpin a stagnant company create a stagnant employee, career, and life. The approaches, strategies, and insights that Bodell uses with companies can be put to use by you, whatever your circumstance.
We all need to kill the preconceived notions that we are currently living by if we want to take that next step forward.
There’s no time to kill when it comes to ensuring our future success, only complacency.
Image Source: Gen Connect and Amazon