There is something to be said for disruptors, innovation, brainstorming, idea generation and creativity in the workplace. After all, these are the practices that envision, shape and birth the growing edge in any industry. At the same time, trying to do everything at the same time means doing most things less well or even badly. Instead, identify one wild pursuit at a time to increase your chances for success.
There is an inverse proportionate ratio that happens where there are many big ideas. To be sure, big ideas change business, people’s lives and the world in general; ironically, the more you pursue, the more you decrease the chances any will pan out. You can see the unfortunate results in start-ups with extreme clarity, especially after the fact.
With the advances in technology, emotional intelligence, productivity, remote workplaces and more, we can do just about anything now – but we can’t do everything. Fortunately, this is a first-world problem because we get to choose our focus. Sure, generate big ideas and make notes about them, then put them in a ‘parking lot’ file as you sort through them to whether any merit prioritization now.
So how do you determine what your focus should be? There are three filters I recommend using to help you determine which wild pursuit to follow.
- Improved Relationships. What big idea will add more value to your customers, staff, and stakeholders? Will it make it easier for your customers and staff to connect with each other? Will it deepen the relationship your company has to your industry and marketplace? Will your staff be able to perform even more optimally as a result of actualizing the big idea?
- Significant Market Shift. Business happens at the speed of digital now – even a dime is too thick a measure for how quickly things can change. Your company must be agile in hearing, understanding and acting on customer (and staff) conversations. Is there a new trend that has come out of nowhere that needs to be addressed? Is there an opportunity that, if you wait, will be gone? New disruptive technology sometimes forces your response, especially as your competitors pick up on it. Is the big idea an unavoidable game-changing opportunity that will sustain (or pivot) your company’s industry leadership?
- Low-Hanging and Low-Risk Fruit. Is the wild pursuit something that can be accomplished quickly? Easily? Will it generate quick wins that help your company in any way – financial, team morale, demonstrating agility, taking advantage of a new opportunity? In this case, the idea must take little distraction from on-going processes and generate disproportionate returns from the efforts exerted.
Determining which pursuit to follow is a very strategic decision because it’s where you are choosing to place your company’s focus and resources. You may decide to pursue an idea and learn within a few days that it was not the right focus – that’s ok. Simply let go and move to the next wild pursuit to see how it pans out.
One more bonus that comes from working your fresh ideas sequentially: you naturally have a ‘control’ on what changes are affecting all the other moving parts of your company. When you implement many ideas all at once, it can easily become unmanageable – think of a herd of baby rogue elephants plowing through your company. They mean well, they don’t know better but they become destructive.
Responsible leadership means being strategic about focus. Where you can, let technology do the heavy lifting. And when the wild pursuit becomes a notable achievement, make sure to thank your team for getting it done – one at a time.
This post was originally published to LinkedIn.