Who is struggling on your team?

Innovation, Leadership Comments Off on Who is struggling on your team?

Assumption 1: We are creating great things.
Assumption 2: We are overcoming seemingly impossible problems to create great things.
Assumption 3: Someone should be struggling right now.

That third assumption is interesting. There is a friction to innovation. A big part of the equation is struggle. It’s uncomfortable. A large part of the time you don’t know what you’re going to do or how you’re going to figure out what to do.

Here’s a bold statement:

If everyone is comfortable you’re not innovating.

Note: The innovation process creates the struggle. I am not advocating that leaders manufacture struggle. You know better than that, right?

The challenge is that everyone experiences the struggle differently. For example, one person could witness a robbery, find it interesting and then go about their day. Another person could witness the same robbery and be paralyzed for more than a week.

To further complicate things, life experiences shift how everyone experiences struggle. You worry about things differently once you have kids for example.

Often when working on a problem you get stuck. You get in your own way. It’s easy to lose sight of the main goal. It’s easy to wed yourself to perfection and be blinded to alternate solutions.

And you need someone to help you break through that barrier.

As a leader your perch is helpful. You can see the big picture. You have distance and perspective.

Can you alleviate the struggle so progress can be made?

There are many ways you can do this. The key is to get engaged with the person struggling while not taking over their problem. What’s the root cause of their struggle? Is it the problem or the problem solver?

Some possible to dos:

Share perspective. This may just be a nice-to-have. Do our customers need the solution to be exactly like this?

Offer alternative approaches. Could we enter this data instead of importing it?

Revisit goals. Have we learned that the original goal isn’t as important as we originally thought?

Shift the weighting and order of requirements. What if we solved this problem next week instead of this week and work on the next thing for awhile?

Look for the struggle. Struggling is good. Struggling unnecessarily though is just wasting time and energy. Knowing the difference is an art and key part of your leadership development.

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Jim Canterucci

I don't know everything. But I want to. The focus of our firm, Transition Management Advisors, is to develop leadership capabilities to create a championship culture, generate innovation, and successfully lead the resulting changes.

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On March 15, 2016
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