Need for Speed

This week's question is from Tony E., and it's a good one!

The article you wrote on innovation vs quality is quite eye-opening and has really put together some pieces regarding layoffs of good people at my company (Editor’s note: read that article here). I feel both better and worse now. I understand the concept and am helped by it, but it is somewhat frightening to think that as soon as a process or job is stable that it is time disrupt it again. Is there any room to relax for a bit and take a breath?

What you are describing is the most common reason individuals resist change: the perceived rigor of it. Your crisis exists because you know what you need to do but do not want to do it. To an overweight guy on a couch, the thought of hitting the treadmill every day is daunting. This is you.

But it’s the only way. Innovation cycles are getting shorter over time, so doing things the same way isn’t going to provide professional security for any longer than a few years, and maybe only a few months. You should take that deep breath you need, but then do this:

  1. Change your mindset: Accept that your professional pace will be faster from now on and embrace it. One change, thenanother is your new mantra. Evangelize the concept of changing a process as soon as it’s mature to anyone who gives you an audience. This will make you an athlete: instead of dreading that daily run, now you can’t live without it. You will love to work at such a fast pace.
  2. Develop hard skills: Runners don’t just need to be in shape, they need to win races. This requires some hard skills that will beat the competitive forces against your change initiatives. The seven core skills you need to work on are: SIPOCing, process mapping, measurement & data collection, data analysis, productivity analysis, risk analysis and cost/benefit analysis. Read more about these here.
  3. Communicate disruptive vision: Your stakeholders (i.e. employees, peers, managers, vendors, and customers) need to see your disruptive vision. If you keep it to yourself, you will have an ineffective team and your upper management will keep planned changes secret from you instead of including you in the process. Draw your vision for your span of control and present it to each stakeholder group at your next meeting with them.

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