There’s an underlying assumption that we need things to continue to make leaps and bounds of change in order to be successful. Thinking of the ‘next big thing’ can be exciting and inspiring. A grand vision. And indeed, especially in this world of technological and scientific advances there are indeed many big things that surprise and excite us. In my lifetime these have included the laptop computer (I learned to type on a manual typewriter and made copies on double backed carbon paper which I had to manually roll around a drum), the cellphone, and we went from my gran’s wind-up gramophone to vinyl records, cassettes, CD’s, stereo players and now online streaming. And that’s just the obvious stuff. We’re seeing electric vehicles become very real, personal voice assistants like Siri and Alexa and fully automated homes. So what’s next in your life or business? We can all want to be the one who discovers that next big thing. However, I suspect that in doing so we might miss the many small innovative things that lead to improvements and to making a difference too. I heard a story from a shop floor employee who had an idea for one small improvement that would increase the efficiency of the work flow. She raised it with her leader. Yet it wasn’t heard as something important enough to make a difference. It might take less than an hour to make the change. Yet no-one was willing to give it a try. Leaders need to listen for the small things as well as the big things that could make a difference. That small idea, left unappreciated, leaves the team frustrated and powerless. It might deter them from making any future suggestions for small changes that would make their job easier. Why bother?
Your turn: what are you listening for in your team daily? what ideas are not being heard? what small changes could lead to bigger changes by encouraging people to think creatively and know their ideas are valued? what conversations or questions might open up your mind and your team’s innovative thinking? Are you set on one big thing or do you see the progress in many small things? #Lead Boldly