Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Looking for an awareness of opportunity as a measure of creative, innovative potential

Posted in HR and personnel by Timothy Platt on July 16, 2016

Does a current employee, or a potential new hire only look for opportunity in their work, in terms of their immediately assigned here-and-now tasks and responsibilities? Or do they take a longer-term, wider perspective and think ahead to consider their job as a whole and how it fits into a larger system? Do they ask questions or look for work experience opportunities that would make them more widely valuable to the business?

Does a current manager and supervisor, or a possible new hire for that role only look to what the people who report to them should do now and next, and according to the usual business routine? Or do they take that deeper and wider perspective too, and consider how their own work and that of their team fits into a larger picture, and both in the immediate here-and now-and moving forward over time?

In both categorical cases do these people look beyond the constraints of their own assigned tasks, to include work opportunities that they could contribute to as stretch goal activities? Do they come up with their own stretch goals and work with their supervisors to get permission to add them into their work flow, and to the work flow of any who report to them?

Do they look wider still, at how their work and their team’s work fits into the business as a whole, and both internally within the organization and as that impacts upon the business’ capacity to offer value to its markets?

What does opportunity mean, to the people you are looking to hire and to those already there and onboard who you might promote and advance into larger areas of responsibility and action? The questions and issues that I raise here all hold value when a business is looking to hire and bring in creative, ambitious employees who hold potential to advance in their system. And they and related issues and questions are important in any case, when a business is looking for employees who can actively, effectively think and who can do more that rote routine work. And this applies to potential new managers as well as to new potential hands-on only, non-managerial employees.

The issues and questions that I raise here do or at least should enter into any promotions consideration, to focus in on that side to hiring and promotions as touched upon above. A lower level manager, for example, who does not and seemingly cannot look beyond the level of the team they work with and supervise now and who does not or cannot see how their effort fits into the larger overall picture, is probably not going to be a good choice for advancement to middle management where they will have to effectively oversee and guide a larger and more diverse team and manage a wider and more complex array of tasks, priorities and needs. But the points that I have been addressing here hold importance in one other area that can be crucially important to a business too: finding and onboarding, and cultivating and supporting creativity and the capacity to innovate in the workplace too.

• Not all who actively look for new and wider opportunity in their work and workplace are innovative, but all innovators actively look for new opportunity.
• Not everyone who looks beyond their own cubicle walls and office space to see how their work fits into larger systems is an innovator. But innovators, by their very nature look to larger contexts and in unexpected ways, to see new ways to achieve current goals and potential new goals that could take the business at least one step ahead.

Innovators create the patterns and templates that others build from and bring to market in what can be a veritable flood of consistently replicated copies – that all stem from their initial breakthrough ideas and test prototype implementations.

Look for people who are interested in and curious about more than just their immediate to-do list? Look for people who want to understand how things fit together and who ask good questions. Look for people who do not simply think about their work or that of their peers, according to the same routine patterns that surround them, and that form their more standard day-to-day work experience. Look for people who ask unexpected good questions, and with an open mind so “different” does not automatically become labeled as “wrong” or “extraneous.”

• An effective innovator might be quite good at routine, but they can and do look beyond it to new possibilities too.
• And to pick up on the last point of the preceding paragraph, innovators and those who hold real innovative potential will never succeed in moving beyond their routine if their every attempt to bring a new idea into the conversation is stymied by gatekeepers with blinders.

Now the question is one of how best to capture creative, innovative potential as a source of new positive value, while actively and effectively maintaining the basic ongoing routine that pays the bills and keeps the business competitive – in its here and now. Now the question is one of how to nurture this potential from the current here-and-now, as a source of potential next-step here-and-nows that the business could develop into, as it evolves in its race to stay competitively effective.

I find myself writing this short essay as a follow-through to a conversation that I recently had with a one-time consulting client. I decided to summarize at least some of my thoughts from that, into a posting for inclusion here in this blog. And my bottom line point of conclusion here, is that I have been writing about finding and maintaining what can be a delicate balance, and particularly as not all innovative attempts work out successfully – and it can be impossible to know in advance where best to expend the resources needed to find the next positively beneficial New.

Start by looking for the right types of people, and both as innovators and as managers who can help identify and nurture them. Some of this is innate to the people involved, and some of this can be developed through training and experience, and from positive support and encouragement towards being open to new and different – while still being practical in meeting realistically necessary needs.

You can find this and related postings at HR and Personnel and its Page 2 continuation, with this one specifically included in that Page 2.

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