083: I is for Innovation [ABC’s of EYB]

083: I is for Innovation [ABC’s of EYB]

There are a lot of keys to helping your company thrive, grow, become more efficient and a better place to work.. We’ve discussed several of them already.

But today we’re going to talk about a different aspect to the whole thing. A concept that can apply to both the people and the process side of things.

And that is innovation.

I believe that every one loves the idea of innovation on the surface. But what they really love is when someone comes up with a new idea or way of doing things and it actually works.

The problem is that many times innovation seedlings get killed before they ever get a chance to grow into full grown trees that can transform a business.

But without innovation, you’re stuck trying to do the best you can with technology or systems or processes or a culture that is only going to get you so far.

You could have the fastest 3.5″ floppy drive in the world (and if you don’t know what that is, it inspired the Save icon on most apps and software), but it couldn’t stand a chance against a writeable CD, which couldn’t stand a chance against a 64GB flash drive.

At some point you have to take risks, try something that might fail. Or, really, try a LOT of things that might fail in order to find that next big thing for your organization.

Sometimes this comes from new people who enter your sphere. Other times it could come from team members you already have who you have empowered to brainstorm on new ideas.

Either way, as a leader you have to set the course on this. From a message standpoint to actually putting resources into innovating or getting outside help.

Unfortunately, the world is littered with plenty of examples of companies that at one point were killing it, but refused to innovate and pivot when the world changed around them. And then they ultimately closed up or quietly shrunk away.

If you believe in your vision for your business and the value of your team members and the product or service they are providing, you owe it to your customers or clients to pursue innovation with everything possible.

Those same customers or clients who have a great working relationship with you are also counting on you to take THEM to the next level as well. They already trust you. Show them that you are still learning and growing as you continue to exceed their expectations.

What does innovation look like in your world? Where have you seen innovation done well or not so well? Let me know by shooting me an email at shawn@shawnwashburn.com

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast, consider telling a fellow entrepreneur or business leader about it. I appreciate you and would love to know any future topics you’d like me to cover or how I can help you and your business. Email me at shawn@shawnwashburn.com

083: I is for Innovation [ABC’s of EYB]

082: H is for Help [ABC’s of EYB]

OK, so I’m a guy. And there is, unfortunately, a stigma about guys.

Well, there’s probably a lot of stigmas about guys, but there’s one that I’m going to bring up because it applies to today’s topic.

We don’t like to ask for help.

Lost out on the road (let’s assume before smart phones came to the rescue)? Not asking for directions. We’ll figure it out.

New toy to assemble for kid’s Christmas with 1000 pieces? No instructions needed. We got this.

Trying to move several hundred pound sandstone slabs across a yard. Ask for help. Nope. OK, maybe. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Bottom line is that asking for help just isn’t natural for some reason.

There are good reasons, like we just don’t want to put someone out or be a burden to them. But then there are other reasons like that we’re just proud or stubborn or trying to prove something.

In the workplace, this can lead to a lot of issues. I’m sure you’ve seen this play out.

If someone doesn’t want help moving something heavy or whatever, they might try to do it themselves or even circumvent the safety protocols put in place. And then they get hurt or someone else does.

Another example, and I think this is the big one, is asking for help when trying to learn something, accomplish a task or trouble-shoot an issue.

Honestly, I struggle in these areas. My default is to just put my head down and figure it out.

But the problem is when we all do that in an organization, for one we waste a lot of time. We waste time trying to dig up information that another colleague could have just told us if we had asked them.

Or we waste time and money going down a path that someone else could have told us might not be the right way to go from their own experience.

There are so many ways this can play out. All of them lead to bad things for the company and keep our organizations from functioning as efficiently and safely as possible. Not to mention that not asking for help just contributes further to isolating people and keeping us from growing closer and building tighter relationships.

So, what can you do about any of this?

Well, similar to some of the other topics we’ve discussed, it can start with the culture of the company.

Think about how you can normalize and model asking for help as being the way you do things. Make it almost awkward for someone who hasn’t reached out to others. You can almost achieve a sort of positive peer pressure when it comes to asking for help. That’s just the way we do it here.

Another thing to consider is working to make your culture one where people are both willing to help and freed up to help. Sometimes people want to help but feel like they don’t have the flexibility or time to do it. You can dig into that and see where you can change things to make it OK to help and empower your people to be able to do that as needed, recognizing the overall value that that brings to the company.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this. How hard do you personally find it to ask for help? What has it been like when you’ve been able to ask for help and received needed help from someone eager to help you out? Shoot me an email at shawn@shawnwashburn.com and let me know.

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and haven’t left an Apple Podcasts or iTunes review, I’d love it you’d take a minute to do that. You can head to shawnwashburn.com/apple to take you right there. Thanks for spending some time today to help you and your business thrive.

083: I is for Innovation [ABC’s of EYB]

081: G is for Gemba [ABC’s of EYB]

So you might be listening today just to find out what the heck a Gemba is. If that’s you, welcome to the show and I’m glad you’re here.

Gemba is a Japanese word that is used in Lean Manufacturing to basically mean the place where the work is getting done.

There are phrases like “gemba walks” and “go to the gemba” which are all about getting out of the office or conference room and physically going to where the issue is or the opportunity lies.

Now I’ll be honest. I don’t really care for the word or those phrases. Not because I don’t believe in the concepts (which I wholeheartedly do and that’s why we’re talking about it) but because early on the first times I heard them it kind of came across as condescending, almost lowering ourselves to venture out the the shop floor. I know that’s not what was meant, but it felt that way.

Anyway, back to Gemba.

I picked that for today’s episode because I think the concept is a real important one for any business and any problem solving endeavor especially.

The idea is that sometimes we can sit at our desk or in a room or talk over and over about something, maybe even with pictures, and find ourselves spinning our wheels or, even worse, going down the wrong path.

There is certainly a need for the desk and meeting work at times, but nothing takes the place of seeing the thing with your own eyes.

I’ve seen this several times just in the last week. And more often than not, there was something I was able to spot looking at it in person that I wouldn’t have even thought of if I was just sitting at my desk looking at a drawing.

I don’t know what your industry or product or service is, but look at it this way. Maybe for you, it could be the idea that you really need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, almost as a stranger approaching your brand for the first time.

What do they encounter when they visit your website? Is it intuitive or confusing. Does it guide them where you want them to go? Why or why not? Spend some time checking it out.

Or maybe you’ve got quality issues with your product and you’re trying to find out where they originated. The more you can trace those steps in the process and identify potential issues the better. You can maybe do that remotely or walking through some document. But you will miss out on so much of what you’d observe if you were physically there watching it.

So, whatever issue your trying to solve or opportunity you’re trying to discuss, make sure you are devoting enough time to be where it’s created or to see from the customer’s side of things.

Let me know what this might look like for you. Shoot me an email at shawn@shawnwashburn.com

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and haven’t left an Apple Podcasts or iTunes review, I’d love it you’d take a minute to do that. You can head to shawnwashburn.com/apple to take you right there. Thanks for spending some time today to help you and your business thrive.

083: I is for Innovation [ABC’s of EYB]

080: F is for Fun [ABC’s of EYB]

I’ll make today’s episode short and sweet.

Have more fun at work… it’s OK.

Your people aren’t coming in each day and doing their work because they’re robots.

They want to be able to work and make a difference. But they also want to enjoy their time there.

So, as much as possible, look for ways to add some fun or humor to the job.

Don’t make meetings so boring. Ask people fun questions in meetings or add some humor to spice up the serious stuff.

Plan special lunch events where your team can compete or just have a good laugh.

Add some kinds of competitions or games creatively into your organizational structure and schedule.

Get creative.

Bottom line is that work can be fun, if you allow it to be. Yes, there are things to get done and they need to be done a certain way and there are deadlines and budgets and all of that.

But I think that the rule that I’ve seen with each of my kids when they were growing up still applies to us as adults.

All parents have been there with this. Books all over your young child’s floor. You ask them to clean them up and put them on the shelf. Nope. A little while later you ask them. Nope. You tell them that they can’t do the thing that they want to until they do it. Nope.

Then, finally, you pull out the nuclear option: make it a competition.

You tell them you don’t think they can clean them all up in 30 seconds. And Boom!!! Book problem solved, floor cleaned. Because you made it fun.

It’s the same way for us now. That part of us didn’t go away, it just got smashed into submission with the idea that work has to be stuffy and serious.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The more fun you can add into your workplace I believe the more productive your people will be and the more they’ll enjoy their work.

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and haven’t left an Apple Podcasts or iTunes review, I’d love it you’d take a minute to do that. You can head to shawnwashburn.com/apple to take you right there. Thanks for spending some time today to help you and your business thrive.

083: I is for Innovation [ABC’s of EYB]

079: E is for Encouragement [ABC’s of EYB]

I believe that there are few things more powerful than words. Both for good and for bad.

We’ve no doubt all been the victim of words that were directed at us to attack us, devalue us, make fun of us, maybe even destroy us. For some of us, we can still remember words like that that were spoken maybe even decades ago.

It’s because words carry a lot of weight.

Today, we’re going to talk about the power of positive words, specifically in the form of encouragement.

Encouragement is up there with Curiosity as one of the topics I love the most.

I’m sure a big part of it is just how I’m wired. I love to receive words of affirmation (check out episode 19 for more on this) and I also love to encourage others.

I think true encouragement, pound for pound, has one of the biggest returns on our investment of time or effort.

That’s because, even if you’re not a big words of affirmation person, all of us long to know that we matter, that we have value.

When we encourage others we are communicating that in one way or another.

With those in our workplace, it can take on a lot of different variations. It could be just noticing how clean someone keeps their area or how diligent they are with their work. It could be genuinely talking up someone to others, letting them know something awesome about them. It could be even just thanking a colleague for going the extra mile to get that project completed or for stepping across responsibility lines to pick up slack for someone who was out.

I think there is incredible value even in just saying good morning to people, especially if you can use their name and even better if you don’t normally talk to them.

Like we said, we all want to belong, to matter, to know in our heart that there is a reason why we woke up this morning and are going through another day.

What I love about encouragement is that you never have any idea how valuable your words can be. When you told Bill that you just wanted to tell him you really value his character and integrity, you had no idea that Bill was really struggling that day behind his ever-present smile. You didn’t know that he was doubting his worth, frustrated with some of his projects and even feeling invisible at times.

All you set out to do was share something that had been on your heart and that you didn’t want to just stay there. And yet, those few words had a powerful impact on Bill.

That’s how true encouragement works. It is like the grease that keeps our rusty joints going sometimes, that cup of cold water to a weary team member who really needs it.

If you’re not a natural encourager, don’t worry about it. Just start by being a noticer. And as you make note of things that you see, try sharing those thoughts with your people. That’s one key that I see. Just sharing what is already on your mind, even if you assume that they already know it. They probably don’t. So just say it.

Don’t leave those valuable words just taking up space in your head. Encourage someone today. It could make all the difference.

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and haven’t left an Apple Podcasts or iTunes review, I’d love it you’d take a minute to do that. You can head to shawnwashburn.com/apple to take you right there. Thanks for spending some time today to help you and your business thrive.