Building a Learning Organization – Part 3

The last part of our Building a Learning Organization series – start with Part 1 and Part 2 to get caught up!   Innovating Firm-wide The word innovation has a negative connotation in many marketplaces. The first words that come to mind are: “cutting edge”, “new to the world”, “awesome invention”; but that isn’t necessarily what innovation is. Defined as “the process or act of introducing new ideas, devices or methods” by Webster’s Dictionary, an innovation can be something as simple as a transformation to your company brand, or perhaps the use of recycled boxes for pizza delivery or even business cards that can be planted. It isn’t reinventing the wheel, but perhaps thinking about what else the wheel can do. Innovation for leadership might be thinking 5 – 10 years down the road developing solutions that can meet the need of their consumers, but for employees, it might be short-term, immediate changes to help create more efficient processes. Connecting team goals with company goals and specifying a timeframe can help steer the innovation to the level you need at your firm. Three ways to help inspire innovation:

  1. Every idea is worthy to run with. Let employees explore different avenues at a firm.
  2. Create collaborative and fun environments for work so all employees can engage in conversation and creation.
  3. Acknowledge employee contributions and reaffirm that they are on the right track to developing the latest and greatest idea, contribution, product, etc

Have you ever heard of the Scrub Daddy? If you are an avid Shark Tank watcher, like me, maybe you have. Scrub Daddy is literally a large yellow smiley face sponge made of a high-tech polymer that is more sustainable, does not smell or collect bacteria, and changes texture according to the temperature of the water. With more than 18 million in sales today, Scrub Daddy is the bestselling sponge in the United States. The inventor David Krauss and his team literally gave a new face to the old and well-used kitchen essential that most households have in their sink. They thought of a new way to use the same old thing. That’s innovation at its finest! Summing It All Up Success is dependent on the ability of a firm to adopt a learning organization structure to cultivate engaged employees, empowered teams and firm-wide innovation. Steve Jobs says it best, “Innovation comes from people meeting in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem.” I challenge you to think about your job, your employees, your firm – when was the last time you did something for the first time? When was the last time you and your team were engaged and empowered to innovate something new? If your answer is “not in a while,” I suggest you have a discussion about what it means to be a learning organization and how you can take the beginning principles outlined above to build your structure, team, and success!

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