Everything Connects

What do a CEO, a secretary, a programmer and a creative director share in common?

More than you’d expect. In fact, virtually everything.

Everything is linked in the current business environment. How well your business clicks with both your clients as well as your team and suppliers is the most fundamental part to dealing with fast changes in the market and being at the top of your competition.

In this text, you’ll find out a comprehensive way to dealing with the forever increasing request of the current market by understanding ways to make the linking points stronger and create a business that encourages innovation and gets excited by being creative.

After you have read this text, you’ll understand:

  • Why Borders, the book retailer, went bankrupt;
  • Why a bossy CEO is not as good as one who is attentive;
  • How the design of an office space impacts productivity;

In this modern economy, you need to be innovative and deal with change today or you’ll perish

Similar to how a surfer rides waves, a business has to ride the waves of economic change. Otherwise, it will fall into the water.

In 1942, Joseph Schumpeter, an economist, labeled today’s capitalism an innovation economy that has “violent bursts and catastrophes” along with revolutionary inventions. He explained how items and businesses are always being replaced by new ones and labelled the act as “creative destruction”.

To keep from getting replaced, a business has to innovate. Schumpeter stated that the market in an innovation economy isn’t only guided by efficiency but also by innovations that can change the market as a whole.

The previous success model had businesses selling their best item for the lowest possible price. Now, one business works on making a cheaper item than the rest of their rivals while another one on the contrary, is focusing on creating one that makes the original item archaic.

For instance, Nokia once effectively produced mobile phones until they started to fall behind the newer smartphones coming out into the market, thus losing customers. Therefore, a business that is successful not only has to invent items to alter the market, but they also have to be able to adapt to any changes that happen within it.

Technology isn’t the only thing that is changing. Today, we also do things differently than we used to. In a lot of industries, a business that doesn’t see and conform to the newest developments will fail.

Although Borders used to be the biggest competitor in the retail book market, since they didn’t realize the alterations that came with the internet, they didn’t go into the market for ebooks. The ones that did change didn’t die, while in the meantime, Borders went Bankrupt.

Increased, intricate connections are the norm of our modern business world

Innovation is a continuous development that is always changing around us. This isn’t only prevalent with smartphones and the internet but also with airplanes and data systems.

In response to all of this innovation, connections have increased and become more elaborate. Today, companies are linked within networks that go beyond just one business. On the contrary, they are combined with an international network of both suppliers as well as intermediaries.

This web is easier to visualize with the production of one can of coke. The aluminum is sourced in Australia, the coca leaf is harvested in South America, vanilla is extracted from orchids in Mexico, and so on.

Connections are also now being made in ways that you could have never imagined before for they were highly improbable. For example, businesses now gain feedback from the internet as well as from social media.

Another place where the kind of and the power of connections is crucial is in product design. In fact, Mel Conway, a programmer, stated as a rule of thumb in the 1960s that businesses need to design systems that reflect their organizational structure. Although that is an abstract thought, you can put it to action toward a variety of organizations and items.

For instance, suppose that an IT company has two software designers named John and Nancy, respectfully. Both of them weren’t fans of one another so they hardly ever spoke to each other. If they had to develop one or more software modules, they most likely wouldn’t have worked together efficiently or matter of fact, clearly so the result would have been subpar and the final product would be a mere reflection of the bad work.
Additionally, the more people you have working on a certain item, the more complicated it’ll most likely be. For example, if you’re assembling a medical diagnostic tool and you have a huge number of specialists working on it, there’s a chance that your tool will become very intricate since it’ll echo the various expertise that was put into it.

In conclusion, from leaders to employees to processes to items, we are all linked. However, what can you do to ensure that your company can handle such an interconnected world?

Practicing mindfulness opens doors to innovation, and focuses your actions for the better

Let’s look into a few methods that you can utilize to make sure that your business continuously prospers in this interconnected world.

Have you heard of mindfulness, an application that helps you out with focusing on the now? Were you aware of the fact that being mindful can make you a better leader?

Mindfulness increases both creativity and focus by letting you fixate on what is happening now while eliminating any assumptions or partiality. That kind of mentality is useful in creative work since it allows you to see either a subject or a situation in a different perspective, or from an unbiased standpoint, which guides you in the direction of innovation. On top of that, studies show that both mindfulness as well as mediation enhance the quality of the way you think. A study from the University of California proved that meditating increased your working memory and decreased your brain’s inclination to drift off topic.

When it comes to business, being mindful helps you see whether or not your actions are parallel to your business goals. For instance, a manager may want to limit the store’s item range. However, he can’t go to trade fairs without being lured into purchasing new items.

Being mindful teaches you to observe a situation instead of acting on it right away, which helps you make some room between experience and reaction. Additionally, mindfulness teaches you to be more aware of your feelings, which helps you understand the drive behind your actions. Therefore, if you are more mindful, as a manager, you could go to a trade fair but not give into your impulse to purchase new items.

Additionally, because of their mindful practice, managers have a better chance of realizing when they are tired of their monotone daily routine and that they actually crave the innovation behind new items. With that mentality, changing the situation isn’t problematic whatsoever. For example, they can just plan to amp up their store by selling only the most exciting and innovative items.

Employees need to feel safe and secure to be creative and innovate. Don’t encourage “lizard brains”

Do you think that annoying ventilation shaft sounds at an office impacts both the creativity and productivity of your employees?

Absolutely.

However, before we dive deeper, let’s take a quick look at the evolution of humans. Humans, notably, steadily developed several levels of consciousness. We’ll take a look at a couple here.

Firstly, there’s a section in our mind that is focused on protection and survival called the “lizard brain” by researcher Stephen Porges. Our lizard brain takes in our environment for anything that would indicate danger like something that is burning or someone who is yelling, for example.

Secondly, we have a “mammal brain”. It is a phylogenetically newer section that focuses on connections. The consciousness level focuses on social behaviour, which allows us to exist together in groups, raise kids, play with one another, and trade information.

As you can see, it’s more reasonable in the business world, to have employees use their mammal brain instead of their lizard one!

Those with a tempermental lizard brain aren’t very cooperative. They also aren’t super innovative, since with innovation comes change and that is a frightening thought to lizard brains.

On the other hand, those who use their mammal brain are more likely to share their thoughts and create more connections so as a result, they utilize their creative juices and are more cooperative.

It’s helpful to note that the environment within a business aids in figuring out which “brain” is more prevalent in the company and as a result, will reflect how cooperate and creative the team is. Therefore, get rid of anything that could bring up the lizard brain in your employees such as loud and annoying ventilation shafts or lights that flicker since that would make the working environment irritating which could make the team frustrated.

Additionally, either defensive or conceited manager, not healthy competition in the team, or not guaranteed job security makes the team feel as if they aren’t in a safe environment which would bring the lizard brain to the top.

However, when we feel at ease, our lizard brain rests at the side and our mammal brain has room to take control.

You can nurture creativity, but not force it. Treat your employees like people, not just resources

Although farmers produce crops, it’s not like they actually grow it. Instead they make sure the conditions are good enough for a plant to sustain itself by making sure that the land is fertile enough for the crops seeds.

Similar to farmers, managers can’t force creativity. However, they can tend to it. Creativity won’t come if the manager just forces their team to be innovative. You have to give them the right environment that will actually motivate them and inspire them to create by themselves.

If the manager ends up meddling or micromanaging their employees’ creative process, they’ll end up disturbing the process. Laborious brainstorm sessions aren’t beneficial to anyone!

On the contrary, an efficient way to improve your team’s creativity is to develop relationships. The better connected your team is, the more innovative they will be. If they are in good relationships, they’ll have more chances to relay their thoughts, get useful feedback, and increase support and supports for the project.

The consultancy, Activate Networks found out that having positive relationships with the rest of the team is one of the strongest predictors of a company’s success.

Don’t forget that your team is made up of people instead of only resources. It’s a lot more enriching if you look at your team as a network of partnerships between various types of people. As a result, your team will be more loyal and feel that their work is more meaningful if they’re being treated as people that have a life other than just work. You can achieve this by getting your team to look into any educational opportunities, even if they aren’t related to the job itself.

Teresa Amabile from Harvard Business School discovered that teams are more creative when they feel that the work that they do has meaning and when they actually have respect for the company.

Break down departmental walls. Use talent clusters to promote creativity and collaboration

Even when a company recognizes that their staff work well and that they are in charge of specific jobs, usually they aren’t expected to shift to other positions. The problem with this kind of arrangement is that it will struggle in an innovation oriented economy since it’s structure is not flexible enough to adjust to change immediately.

In order to interrupt this cycle, incorporate talent clusters, or teams that focus on creating certain projects. Instead of it consisting of people from a single department, groups get staff from different levels and specialities.

Additionally, these talent groups don’t restrain the creative ideas from each member that traditional teams do. Each member has their own role in traditional teams. As long as they stay together, they just have one position throughout the entire project whether it be a leader, an innovator, or expert, regardless the type of project.

Since talent groups fall apart when a project is done, each member of the team doesn’t have one specific position. A member can be the leader in one, and then an expert in the other, based on their set of skills and specialty relative to the project.

For instance, at an advertising agency, a staff member with a medical background would be the perfect expert for researching a PR strategy for a pharmaceutical company. However, they would be a better manager leading the funding for creating an ad for a fashion company.

Talent groups are a more efficient and flexible way to link people and share thoughts.

When employees are combined based on their department of fixed groups, most of their connections are from their team or department. However, if they work with many people in a variety of short-term group projects, they’ll create a network that gets rid of the departmental borders which lets new ideas run through the company.

Different is better! Diversity mixes things up, creating opportunities for innovation

Suppose that you are hiring a person for a new position. You feel that the both of you have a lot of similarities so you could definitely see them as a potential friend in the future. The other applicant is equally as qualified as the other, but their style is different from the rest and they they don’t seem very outgoing, which is the complete opposite of your own personality.

So, who should you hire?

Although you may more likely choose the one that is the most similar to you, keep in mind that diversity adds more perspectives to a company, thus pushing creativity. The more diverse your company is, not just socially but also by their expertise, talents, orientation, experiences, ethnicity and others, the more diverse the company’s point of views are to solve various issues.

Every contrasting, one-of-a-kind perspective can create different approaches or innovative solutions. A company that has various kinds of staff will come up with more answers, too, for each new issue.

Employees also usually make items that fulfil what they need and want and assuming that it will be the exact for their customers as well. However, for example, each group has their own perspectives. There are those who want their car to be affordable and effortless to drive while others may view vehicles as a symbol of status or a luxury product. Therefore, the more diversified your company is, the more likely that they will create an item that fulfils the desires of a wide range of people.

Additionally, diversity also increases creativity. In fact, even the most creative people that surround you don’t begin from nothing. They start creating based on what is inside of them like memories, long thought out concepts, or older material.

Creativity feeds off of creativity. Often times, inventors make new items by deliberately putting together old things in new ways. For example, in 1839, when Kirkpatrick MacMillan invented the bicycle, he didn’t have to come up with the wheel first.

By exposing yourself to your large range of new experiences, you have a better chance of new combinations. Therefore, in order to get yourself out there, try to go to readings, conferences, and parties so that you can meet fascinating people. Think about widening your range of experience with the help of art as well as media that covers various themes and subjects.

Finding out about new ideas will help you connect them better and innovate in the future.

Final Summary

In order to manage a successful business, you have to be able to go with continuously changing company conditions and demands, come up with new items, guide your rivals, make a large variety of shoppers happy and positively influence your market. By understanding the influence of interconnectedness, you’ll have abundant success.

Practical Advice:

There’s no need to hire the competitive, leading performers.

Instead, the next time that you need to hire, choose those that are known for their commitment and cooperativeness. They are the ones who are more likely to stay and support the rest of the team. In fact, based on a Stanford study, the start-up companies that select committed staff are more likely go make it out into the public and are less likely to fail instead of those that would rather just have the star performers.

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