We’re happy to give the label genius to people like Youtube behemoth, Casey Neistat, who chose to be in control of the videos he creates, over working for a big name Film or TV production company, or Tina Wells, who started a teen market research company at the age of 16. Then there’s Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, which has a brilliant business model that supports those in need with every product purchased.
To give ourselves such a worthy title sits uncomfortably with most of us, and so it should. It would be extremely arrogant of you to go around telling everyone, either verbally or in your personal bio, that you are an actual genius : ) What I’m talking about here is believing that you have something unique and valuable to offer your organisation or community.
“A genius looks at something that others are stuck on and gets the world unstuck.” Seth Godin
In his introduction to the popular book Linchpin, Seth Godin confronts us with the thought that we are all in fact, geniuses — but not all the time. According to Godin, the reason that most of us struggle to accept this is that our ‘genius’ over time, has been drummed out of us by our family, schooling, bosses, or government. The road to genius is paved with plenty errors along the way, however society frowns on us if we make mistakes or even worse, fail. As toddlers, we learn by failing, yet this is the very thing we struggle to embrace. If we truly want to be innovative we need to go back to having this child-like curiosity and resilience. Remember that the next time you see a baby getting back up again after its just fallen for the tenth time.
If you’ve ever solved a problem that your colleagues, family or friends couldn’t, then in that moment you are a genius. The challenge for you is to change your mind-set and get used to the fact that every day is an opportunity for you to do something amazing, even genius!
Breaking down barriers
“Truly great innovations can be as simple as making small changes to the tasks done every day (by those on the shop-floor), rather than the big ideas (from the C-suite) which transform everything.” Stuart Eames, Operations Improvement Manager, Waitrose
The senior management at Waitress practiced what they preached above by listening to one of their till worker’s simple, yet genius suggestion to make more efficient use of the till roll by cutting out the wasted space. Making this small tweak saves the company £100,000 annually.
Do you consider yourself to be a leader within your organisation? Then you should be listening to all your employees, not just your highly paid consultants. I believe more businesses would benefit greatly if they decided to listen regularly to those on the ‘shop-floor’ or to those from other cultures.
Watch this great lesson below, on nurturing creativity by getting out of your comfort zone culturally, from advertising genius John Jay (former creative director at Widen + Kennedy)
Innovation is nurtured from insights learnt from those in other disciplines and fluid open boundaries. For companies that want to become more efficient and have a more productive workforce, it is important for organisations to break down any silos that exist, be it managerial or departmental. Create an environment where people, whatever their skill-set, level or sector, feel safe to come together to share ideas and thoughts on how they think their business could improve, and be prepared to listen.
Crazy ideas can work
The idea of making an iron fish to cook with to solve the problem of iron deficiently would have sounded a little off-the-wall initially, yet the Lucky Iron Fish went on to do just that. With 50% of Cambodians now experiencing changed lives as a result.
Some think that great ideas are simply in short supply, when the real issue is that many of us are simply not comfortable sharing our ideas. Fear holds us back. Fear that our idea will be rubbished by others, we fear what our boss or colleagues might say and fear that our ideas might not be good enough and perhaps fail. The truth is that your outlandish ideas might be the very thing your organisation needs to solve a problem. Some of you are unfortunate enough to work for companies that have rigid, standardised processes and/or closed-minded managers. You know that it might be difficult to nurture a culture where ideas from regular members of staff, are listened to and considered on a regular basis. But you can try.
Try to find a way to bring a cultural change in the way ideas are fostered and used to move your business forward. Otherwise, find somewhere else to work where you know ideas are listened to and appreciated. To know that your ideas are being acknowledged builds confidence to the individual and teams as a whole.
The call to nurture collaborative, engaged teams that are excited about contributing to the success of your business has been top of the agenda of many business meetings in the last few years. If you want your company to stay ahead in this brave new world, it’s essential. But it will come down to you the individual to make the changes discussed in this article happen, regardless of your role, seniority or lack thereof. Tapping into your genius to benefit positive business outcomes for your organisation is not easy but remember everyone has something to offer, including you.
‘You have brilliance in you, your contribution is valuable, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must.’