Thought of the Week – If you’re not getting better you are getting worse
Business is fierce and rapidly changing. It is not enough to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your previous work or even maintain your current pace or capabilities. You and your team must evolve and grow. While harsh it is absolutely reality that if you are not getting better you are getting worse.
You must strive daily to improve and be in constant pursuit of positive growth. This focus will separate you from the pack in the end. Improving does not happen naturally however. It must be worked for. It must be planned and never left for chance.
Develop an improvement plan and review for progress at least bi-weekly. Dream big and big things will happen if you commit and follow through. So, follow through you must. Think. Execute. Adapt. Then Repeat. Get specific and go win!
*Originally published on LinkedIn
People usually think that world-changing ideas are rare and can only come about like a lightning bolt of inspiration or a stroke of genius. However, according to Osama A. Hashmi’s “Innovation Thinking Methods,” that’s not the case at all. According to Hashmi and his book, finding or creating ground-breaking solutions is something that anyone can do.
Hashmi’s entrepreneurial career spans over 15 years. Currently he’s the CEO and Product Architect of the revolutionary CDF Software. He’s helped build numerous product-based companies, startup communities in emerging markets, and enterprise companies on product strategy. His aim has always been the same: try to solve some of the big problems of the world. Here’s where “innovative-thinking,” as he likes to call it, comes in very handy.
In his book, Hashmi explains that being a true innovator and a product visionary is all about adopting a simple thinking discipline he calls “innovative-thinking.” He defines this discipline based on the different methods and techniques he’s used throughout his career to build strong innovation cultures and help entrepreneurs refocus their company goals on more impactful endeavors.
The problem with today’s entrepreneurs is that more and more we see how startups and larger companies are pressured by investors and founders to innovate while maintaining the level of risk involved as minimal as possible. This pressure becomes very stifling for companies that have the ability to reach new heights and ultimately leads them to create mediocre improvements to already existing solutions, rather than creating something people don’t even know they need yet. To make things worse, with the world becoming increasingly interconnected, innovators are required to act fast; the goal is always to be the first, not necessarily the best.
After presenting the issues that are currently limiting everyday-people from creating transformative things, Hashmi presents a series of suggestions on simple ways people can use innovative-thinking to their advantage. One of the methods he mentions is thinking, talking, and essentially behaving like a human. According to Hashmi, often times when we focus on product or service development delivery we think and act like a business to a business, instead of a customer to another customer. According to Hashmi, the simple act of putting ourselves in the shoes of a customer can bring about innovation in ways you wouldn’t expect. It allows you to genuinely approach a problem as a human looking for a solution, not at a company looking for success. When you do this you open yourself to truly understanding the needs that must be solved and become more creative in your solution search.
Another great thing about Hashmi’s book is that it’s an easy read. It’s written in a conversational style with no technical jargon that may discourage a wider audience from reading it. It’s full of sustained examples, powerful questions, and realistic criticism of today’s entrepreneurial industry. If you’re looking for a good guide on how to be substantially innovative, this is a good place to start.
While creative thinking and problem solving are both key concepts that are interconnected with the notion of business, entrepreneurship, there comes a time when these strongly ingrained ideas can hinder any sort of innovative process moving forward in your brand.
The inspirational book titled ‘Winning the Brain Game; Fixing the 7 Fatal Flaws of Thinking,” by Matthew May provides readers useful insight to tackle managing and developing your creative side once challenges in your business seem out of your reach.
Known as a very prolific author, May has crafted a myriad of books that include “The Elegant Solution”, “In Pursuit of Elegance”, “The Shibumi Strategy” and “The Law of Subtraction” that all collectively examine different strategies from design thinking to lean thinking. In terms of “Winning the Brain Game,” May gives advice to his readers so they can utilize their minds in ways to more effectively produce complex solutions to issues or problems that you previously felt were impossible to successfully approach.
Although May discusses business related issues when it comes to approaching a new business plan, he also takes a step back to access how the various flaws of our educational system. He finds the root of our incapability to brainstorm from the ingrained mentality from school to never question or create new ways to approach a problem, but rather find the correct answer through a standardized exam.
In turn, May notes the fact that this does not only obstruct the problem solving process from an early age, but also conditions us to think very narrow-mindedly in a stage of our lives when innovation should be maximized in every way possible. Throughout the book, the author makes it clear that to advance the creative side of your brain, the first step is to come up with various questions as a means to address the problem instead of forming solutions.
The logic is that these questions have the potential to initiate new ideas or ways to approach the problem instead of immediately conjuring up solutions with a limited originality.
As doubt is one of the many fundamental hindrances that negatively affect the creative process, May makes it known that censoring this is essential not only for your sanity, but also in terms of bettering yourself in your respective field. He then claims that in order to muster up the courage or bravery to improve creatively, we need to return to a mental state similar to how children act upon their curiosity or desire to experiment without concern of the outcome.
Also, he finds that this “ideacide” is rooted from fear, which allows us to engage in self-censoring to a point when we become completely incapable of producing anything that challenges normalcy or the situation’s conformed state. Thus, May argues that among all of the fatal flaws, self-doubt is by far the most dangerous any form of innovation.
To better respond to the self-doubt fatal-thinking flaw, the author makes an interesting point to undertake new scenarios or situations with a mindful framework as a means to better approach the matter at hand with active thinking, instead of indifference or perhaps rejection. The act of questioning or taking other perspectives into account is highly important when it comes to any sort of professional, personal or academic growth as you move forward in your path.
There is no question that the ability to find and be secure in your strengths is an incredibly difficult task that is becoming increasingly hard to deconstruct. Insecurity about strengths or weaknesses in the workplace is something everyone feels from their day to day lives, which the author of “Standout” examines with the release of his most recent book. Marcus Buckingham, who many people believe is a prominent presence in what is called the strengths movement, has been a leading voice in rethinking how we can uniquely succeed in the workplace through the process of specific online tests.
Different from his previous books that have focused on the first two steps of finding your strengths, his latest book titled Standout: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution, emphasizes the last step of the process is utilizing the online assessment to discover what your two primary strength areas are to essentially excel in the workplace.Instead of taking the approach to improve your certain weaknesses, Buckingham supports the evidence used in his book on thorough behavioral and statistical research which he used to analyze some of the world’s top business leaders. In terms of the exam itself, below are the twenty strengths that are in the assessment crafted to find areas in which you stand out and should further capitalize on in the workplace.
Charismatic people that have the innate ability to connect and interact with people on a high energy level very different from the average person. They value collaboration and better understanding people through interaction.
This role depicts someone who essentially values the community around them and does their best to support their environment in any way they can. Some forms of this include knowledge or other intellectual resources.
The person who is constantly guiding others either on your team or others in the office who are willing to learn.
You create and are constantly coming up with new ways to approach a certain process or idea. Generating interesting ways to tackle a specific situation is something you love to do.
These types of individuals strongly feel as though everyone’s work should be at an equal level as their own. They strive to be better, while expecting the same strong work ethic in return.
Based on very clear verbal directness, influencers are keen on finding ways to achieve a goal in various circumstances by capitalizing on charm or other enticing means of communication.
Intrigued by the spontaneous or exciting experiences, these individuals love to constantly challenge themselves by trying to break out of their comfort zones.
A nature leader, your high energy influences other to engage what you have to say or do at a level very different from the other strength areas.
Unlike other books that have a clear focus on improving or finding your strengths, Buckingham does not use excessive theoretical jargon or complex language to effectively achieve his message to his readers. More than anything, he holistically explains the highlights of his research so that you, the reader can find success in your respective career path full of skills that are waiting to be tapped into.
This timeless classic was first published in 1936 and to this day remains a prominent best-seller with good reason. Financial guru and fiscal extraordinaire Dale Carnegie details his tremendous success by laying out his pristine perception of people. By outwitting rivals, sympathizing with co-workers, and empathizing through shared experiences, Carnegie paints a comprehensive portrait of how to achieve the success most only dream of.
Mr. Carnegie gives timeless advice over and over again while supporting said advice with real-life examples that not only help you to wholly understand what is being said, but to remember what is being said. Anecdotal evidence has never proved so beneficial, until now. Utilizing literally the same techniques he preaches in the very prose of this book (anecdotes, empathy, support, rationale), Dale Carnegie transcends time through the written word to spread his knowledge.
To be a bit more specific (and perhaps to simplify a bit too much), the author stresses identifying with whom you are speaking by way of shared experiences. This way, you equalize the playing field, garner greater respect, and are able to, ultimately, exert influence. By putting yourself in the other’s shoes, you can plant a sort of desire that propels the individual to want what you want, and thus do what you want.
He goes on to speak at length about how to do this of course. Some mediums involve “throwing down a challenge,” letting the other recover from embarrassment and save face, and letting whoever you are talking with handle the majority of the dialogue. It’s funny; so much of the advice seems so simple and yet I’ve never quite put the notions into words. But here, with the words on the page in front of me, I feel the business lessons I have learned over the course of my career stand out with clarity.
These simplistically explained lessons provide explanations to nearly every situation, and are supported with comprehensive evidence. What’s more, after applying these lessons to my own life, I have experienced first-hand the success of these tactics when they’re employed. Mr. Carnegie has sincerely authored a truly easy-to-understand guide to success.
This straight-forward book is a well-written gift to the world and to all those lucky enough to pick it up. While it is certainly vastly popular, it took me awhile to thumb through its pages. Don’t make the same mistake as me; and expand your knowledge of business, of the world, and of life today.