The business world if rapidly evolving and everyone is scrambling to keep up with it. Everybody is too busy staying afloat that they fail to see the connections which exist in the business world. Why are these connections important? Because a leader not only has an impact on their business but on everything connected to the business.
Successful businesses realize that everything is connected. No matter where your position lies in a company hierarchy, positions are connected and influence the company more than you can imagine. The way companies handle this connection to their employees, suppliers and customers is integral to determining their success in an ever-changing market. If you wish to stay ahead of the competition, you have to know how to strengthen and nurture these connections.
In this summary readers will discover:
- Innovation Economy
- The modern business world
- How mindfulness in the workplace can help
- Lizard brains vs. Mammal brains
- How you can help nurture creativity in your employees
Key lesson one: Innovation Economy
The term Innovation Economy was coined by Joseph Schumpeter in 1942. Schumpeter was an economist and believed that modern capitalism was best described as an innovation economy as it dealt with ‘violent bursts and catastrophes’ and revolutionary inventions. He went on further to describe creative destruction which referred to the constant replacement of products and companies. What we would refer to as out with the old and in with the new.
If businesses want to avoid being part of this creative destruction, they must innovate. In an innovation economy, innovations can change the way entire markets operate. It’s not just about efficiency anymore. Gone are the days where the focus fell on having the best product at the lowest price. This no longer defines success. Currently in the business world, whilst one company strives to develop a product cheaper than its competition, another company is working hard to create a product that makes the original product obsolete. Take a look at Nokia for example. They successfully produced mobile phones for a number of years but they fell behind once smartphones were introduced on the market.
To be successful, companies need innovation – not only to change the market but to adapt to it as it continually changes. These changes are not limited to technology. People change, the way they do things change and if businesses don’t take that into consideration, they will fail. An example of this comes from the book retailer Borders. They held a reputable position in the market but when the internet impacted the way people read books, they did not make any changes. They did not expect ebooks to have had such a significant impact on the book industry and whilst other retailers adapted to this change, Borders did not. The eventually went bankrupt.
Key lesson two: The modern business world
Innovation surrounds us in our daily lives. Think about smartphones, the software we use and even the way we travel are products of innovation. More importantly, these innovations have led to a complex web of connections. Connections are no longer limited to a single company in one location. They are spread out across the globe. Just look at Coca-Cola. To produce a can of Coke, coca leaves come from South America, Aluminum for the can comes from Australia and vanilla comes from Mexico. Each one of these businesses is connected to each other.
Customer connections have even evolved with the internet and social media. Customers are able to give companies direct feedback now which was not a possibility in the past without expensive marketing and surveys. Even product design can be influenced by our connections. This was noticed in the 1960s by programmer Mel Conway. He said that companies will design systems that mirror their own organizational structure. This may seem a bit drastic, but let’s put it in an example. If you have two employees who really don’t like each other, but you need them to work together to design different parts of a product; chances are the product is not going to be the best that it could be. Now imagine if there were more employees who had similar interactions. You would never produce anything!
Even the number of employees working on a product can impact the complexity of the product itself. The more people who add their inputs, the more features the product will have. It’s all connected. The sooner companies see these connections, the sooner they can adapt to use it to their advantage.
Key lesson three: How mindfulness in the workplace can help
Mindfulness is an increasingly popular tool in our everyday lives. It may seem like a rather arb technique to discuss if we are considering connections; but mindfulness can, in fact, help you become a better leader.
Firstly, let’s define mindfulness. It is the practice of focusing on the present without preconceptions or bias. This allows you to see things more clearly without being influenced by outside ideas. Mindfulness is therefore highly conducive to creativity and innovation as you are able to see things without outside influence and thus from an unbiased viewpoint.
In a business setting, mindfulness helps you evaluate your actions clearly. You will be able to see if your actions are aligned with company goals. To give you a clear example of this, consider a manager who wants to streamline his product range. There’s an expo coming up that they would like to attend but are avoiding it because they know it will just lead them to buy more products which is the opposite of their current goal. However, if they practised mindfulness, they would be able to experience the expo without actually purchasing new products. The temptation to purchase something is a behaviour which has been influenced by something else. Mindfully attending the info may help the manager actually identify the products which they are most inspired by and the changes to streamline their product range will become easier.
Key lesson four: Lizard brains vs. Mammal brains
Lizard Brain was a term coined by researcher Stephen Porges to describe the part of our mind which is focused on protection and survival. This part of our brain is continuously on the lookout for danger in our surroundings.
Mammal brain describes the part of our mind which deals with connections. This part developed as a result of the social behaviour we, as mammals, exhibit. If you think of how humans evolved, it is these social connections which took us to the next level. We co-existed in groups, building civilisations, raising children and exchanging knowledge.
In the business world, you expect everyone to be using their mammal brains and not their lizard brains. As you can imagine, people who are lizard brained are not exactly cooperative. They are always looking for danger and for them, innovation and change are scary. Whereas if people use their mammal brain, they would be more open to making connections and exchanging ideas. This is precisely what you need to facilitate an innovative, creative and cooperative environment with your company.
An important thing to remember here is that a company’s working environment can influence which brain is in play. A ‘safe’ working environment, one that is free of distractions, unhealthy competition, poor job security and harsh managers can positively influence your employees. If they are constantly looking over their shoulder or their ideas continuously dismissed, the lizard brain will take over and impact your overall productivity.
Key lesson five: How you can help nurture creativity in your employees
Employees have to have the right environment not only for their mammal brains to be at the fore, but also to develop motivation and creativity. Managers cannot afford to micromanage and have endless meetings which disrupt everyone’s creative process. They have to instead realize that nurturing connections with employees will achieve more.
If employees have healthy connections with each other within a company, there will be an increase in opportunities to communicate with each other, gain feedback and generate innovative ideas. Your employees are in fact the most important connections you have as they will ultimately determine the success of your company. You cannot treat them as a resource.
If you treat your employees right, they will be more motivated in their work and loyal to the company. This entails creating a healthy work environment, autonomy in their work, opportunities to study and facilitating connections between employees.
Connections amongst employees build talent clusters which the company can tap into. If employees have rigid roles which do not allow them to explore other tasks, their ability to innovate and adapt is inhibited. Using talent clusters for specific projects allows companies to utilise employees from different departments to work together for the best possible outcome. An employee can be a leader of one talent cluster be an expert in another, there are no defined roles. Once the project is completed, they can return to their previous roles.
Talent clusters are an excellent method of ensuring effective connections between employees. It does not limit employee connections to people within their own department or in fixed teams. If employees work with a broad range of people across departments, innovation will be a breeze.
Ensuring that your company has diverse employees is also important to facilitate creativity. If you hire similar people, chances are, they will like similar ideas and creative thinking levels will below. A diverse team means differing views, life experiences and perspectives will be available and this will generate multiple solutions for every new problem. Your company will be more likely to produce products which satisfy a wide range of people.
Nurturing creativity in the workplace will have a significant impact on the work your company does and the products it offers. Keeping your employees motivated and inspired is as much a company’s job as it is theirs.
The key takeaway from Everything Connects is:
The connections you have as a company goes way beyond the people you interact with daily. The sooner you recognize what you are connected to, the sooner you can tap into each connection to help your business succeed. Innovation and change are key to keeping up with a rapidly changing market. You have to be able to employ a variety of strategies to keep your company and products relevant. Remember that as a leader, you have to nurture the connections you have whilst recognising how they can work together. A team that has healthy connections will be much more productive than one without.
How can I implement the lesson learned from Everything Connects:
Practise mindfulness as a leader to be able to see things clearly and without outside bias. You will be able to align your actions and those of your employees with the company’s goals. Also, ensure that you provide your employees with a safe work environment which nurtures connections and creativity. And remember, a diverse workforce will lead to talent clusters which will provide successful products for the company.