Tag Archives: phylosophy

Team culture vs. individuals-driven innovations

Some time ago, I attended an Assessment Centre of a major energy company, and the thoughts about it would not let me go. The negative part of my personal feedback was: “We need innovations, and you are not creative, because you did not propose any solution to the problem”. Our group was the only one to complete the task correctly though.

Choosing between different directions for innovation is not only the task for one’s creativity, but this is an issue of the right facilitation and personnel management. Most companies have enough talented people to bring innovations forward but concentrate all the efforts on finding the solutions somewhere else instead of motivating employees to bring ideas forward within the company. Moreover, while recruiters are paying attention to the knowledge of the “right” (well-known and certified) methodologies, the ability to listen carefully to others and to ask the right questions is never in the middle of the interview.

I went through many modern innovation approaches focusing on customers, internal processes, team-related brainstorming – but did not find any good concepts related to individual intellectual strength of employees. Let’s say, innovation is not business at first – it’s personal.

Many companies are strongly team building-oriented, while innovation-focused structured work of less social employees is underrated. The goal of the team management often becomes to make employees identical enough so they could work as an “effective team”. The amount of emotional energy every employee should invest in this theatrical masterpiece of acting like a “good team member” instead of his own work and relationships with the clients is not considered. This becomes especially visible in teams, which have only few introverts, who need to adapt to the “team culture” of others. Meanwhile, when did the “good team player” become the only way of distinguishing the “good employee”? A solid introverted scientist can be of more help in an innovation process than ten certified Innovation Managers can. I am talking here about employees, who are too shy or just uncomfortable to speak up for their ideas. In this case, their y).

Why do so few methodologies focus on what the INDIVIDUALS can and so many – on what THE TEAM can? Why do employers spend so much time creating “team cultures”, candidates are sitting with books on “how to become a person everybody will love during the Assessment Center”, team members are concentrated on the team brainstorming while competing behind each other’s backs. Excuse me, who is going to work in this structure on the innovative strategies and when?

Why do not we try to collect different ideas from the employees themselves one-by-one and then analyze them, as we do with the customers’ opinions? Why not to make our own talented people to our internal customers in the innovation process?

We do not use the individual strengths – we tolerate them. And later on we try to change the individual in order to be able to manage him more effectively. Similar people in larger groups are easier to coordinate. This toleration is a disease, as what we really need is to learn, how to integrate individual strengths instead and make use of them.

We also lack the ability to observe. When I read my non-marketing-related newsfeed on LinkedIn, 80% of posts are about people themselves (I was nominated..I visited…I achieved) and 20% declare the same in a more polite form “WE” (My team..my company..). There are only few to none posts about achievements of colleagues and partners, which mostly come from executives and headhunters. To survive, one should be self-centered, self-confident and very loud. The team culture in many companies does not motivate people to share innovative ideas with each other, as it is more of a co-existence culture under the conditions of a high competition within the “team”. Nobody is willing to share more than is required, even less are employees motivated to ask other team members about their opinions.

In my perception, the reason why many innovative startups are showing a sustainable fast growth is that they are small enough so the employees would use the individual strengths of each other and have less time for the process management. You MUST get to know others and learn their opinion to survive. The ability to listen and make others speak becomes crucial.

As the speed requirements for innovations processes increase, we need new concepts concentrating on making people speak up rather than making their opinions “acceptable” to the team. In the world of diversity, one should learn not only to accept differences in minds, characters, and working cultures – but also to benefit from them.

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

Thought for the day

People should be worth more than machines. That’s, probably, why the expectations from what a person CAN jumped to a very different level in past 15 years. It’s not enough anymore to be able to use a computer – it’s essential. Your English should be very good if you want to see any positive changes in your career; your ability to overcome work overloads should be impressive; your intercultural understanding should be very progressive; your creativity should jump up to the sky even if you’re a logical type; you should speak at least 2 foreign languages fluently; you must be a good team player at any time.

I am currently helping a friend to become creative. Yes, I am not joking. He is a very talented Senior Manager in a famous consulting company, who works at least 10 hours a day (this is Germany, my dear, just 10 years ago people would count every 15 minutes of the extra workload!) and analyses every issue logically, going into the depth of it until he finds a solution. As I am something in-between hard logics and creativity, I went to look for information on how to open one’s creativity. Guys, there are COURSES and even CERTIFICATES on creativity out there! People with absolutely different talents are expected to cover all the important personal traits available! Logics for creative people, creativity for mathematicians, language courses for engineers..

HR departments tell us that they are looking at the “individual strengths” of the candidates. Yes, they do – in order to push us with the additional courses to opposite directions, which creates an “all inclusive” employee.

The truth is, we will never be there. We will work extra hours, visit all the “complementary” courses in order to shift from our real talents to universal soldiers who can just a little bit of everything, burn in the gym in the evening to correspond to the beauty standards and take Arabic courses on the weekend. This will not change a thing.

Relax, we will never be there. As a person, who can a little bit of everything and speaks several languages fluently, I confirm I rely on you THAT damn much. Because we need people, who are experts in their fields and know the subject into the depth. So, just gain yourself a day off, take a deep breath, get a cup of good green tea and remember: you are talented in what you ARE talented – don not try to be somebody else and everybody at the same time.

Sincerely yours,

Russianladyabroad

Want a promotion? It’s time to get a new hobby!

Have you seen those guys getting a promotion just because they discuss football with your boss? Your blood should be boiling by now – unless you are one of them. How can your boss be so unfair and prioritize his own hobby giving the promotion to your co-worker who can talk about football the whole day long – and not YOU, who worked from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the last 6 months straight?! This is just psychology, my dear – and so far it has been working against you.

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Thought for the day

Have you seen any artist sitting day after day and working without any inspiration? Have you seen him not looking for anything, where his muse might be hidden?

So, why should it be different with you? Why should you go to work without any inspiration and invest your precious time solely in something that does not inspire you?..You are not as different as you think. We all are artists in some way.

Thought for the day

As a good fight for a better life requires more energy and brings more stress, it is easier for your psychology to help you being a looser than a fighter. You will usually think a lot about others saying you’re stupid and have no talent, or you may even agree with their position. In other words, while you feel so unhappy and powerless, your brain is just trying to “save you some stress”. Remember it and learn to keep your ears closed from time to time)) You‘re the only one who can estimate your power, talent and potential!

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