In Business: Finding Rudolph
Increase business success by finding and nurturing the innovators in your organizationby Cyndi Laurin and Craig Morningstar | Published in December 2009 innovation | Departments
Increase business success by finding and nurturing the innovators in your organization
No matter what time of year it is, it’s always the right time for business leaders to start looking for and cultivating the Rudolphs in your organizations. Who are the Rudolphs? The 10 percent of any organization’s people who are the true agents of innovation – people who can shine the light exactly where a company needs to go in order to get to the next level, like the storied reindeer. They connect the dots that others don’t see and identify causes of problems rather than symptoms, generating sustainable solutions more quickly and efficiently than their counterparts. In finding these crucial individuals, nurturing them and putting their ideas to work, you achieve consistently higher levels of innovation—and thrive in any economy.
So how can you discover your organization’s innovators? Here are traits that will help you identify and nurture your Rudolphs in 2010.
They are big thinkers
Innovators spend an average of four to six hours a day outside their regular work hours thinking about how they can make things better for their organization. That means they can spot issues before they become full-blown problems and come up with solutions others don’t see. Make sure they have ample opportunity to mull over company challenges. Allowing them to brainstorm can end up producing great results for your organization.
They are great problem-solvers
Who in your organization likes to get their hands dirty, instead of putting band-aids on problems? These are likely to be your Rudolphs. As you look for ways to troubleshoot your way through the slow economy, turn to your innovators for solutions. Make sure their ideas are shared at strategy meetings and that they are given the tools they need to be active problem-solvers.
They are passionate
When someone is passionate about the work he or she is doing, it shows in the finished products. Rudolphs light up when talking about their roles or the particular projects they’re working on.
To find them, take some time each week to talk with your employees about their projects and ideas for improvements.
They ask questions
Innovators question the world around them to gain a better understanding and to approach problems and situations from all angles, leading to better and more innovative solutions. They often ask “why” when it may not be the most popular question, which can make those around them uncomfortable. It may appear as if they are trying to rock the boat just for the sake of rocking the boat, but generally that is not the case. Don’t mistake a Rudolph for a troublemaker. Make a conscious effort not to squelch your organization’s curious innovators. Instead, encourage their questions and develop a dialogue with your employees that helps shed light on their questions, concerns and solutions.
They wear rose-colored glasses
In the business world, many employees experience the effects of an unhealthy business culture and lose the desire to make a difference they once had. The innovators among us continue to see the world through a lens of possibility, opportunity and potential. This is the driving motivation behind their creative and innovative thinking. To nurture this habit, don’t be too quick to discredit or dismiss an idea or suggestion because it seems too idealistic; it might just stem from a potential opportunity you didn’t see.
They are not self-centered
Innovators are not typically driven by self-promotion. They do the work because they are good at it, they enjoy it and they want to do everything they can to help the organization succeed. Make a point to let them know that you appreciate their hard work.
They think like entrepreneurs
An innovator might leave an organization because the corporate work environment works against their enthusiasm and creative thinking. Take the time to recognize and nurture these people from the beginning. By doing so, you will create a team of innovative thinkers who will help your company soar ahead.
They are team players
Although they may appear to be loners because they choose not to play the traditional corporate game, most prefer collaborating with others rather than going it alone. Be sure to include them in team projects and to pair them with those who complement their styles. If you give them the opportunity to flourish as team players, the benefits will be tenfold.
They are proactive
Innovators are confident to act on their ideas, sometimes without knowing the exact path needed to accomplish them. You might hear them say, “I don’t know how, but we’ll figure it out as we go.” They most often are right. Innovators have the ability—and at the very minimum, the confidence—to turn their ideas into action. When you know that a Rudolph in your office is working on a solution, see what you can do to help. Provide the resources he or she needs to move forward with viable ideas; e.g., have the company offer to purchase that new computer program needed to solve the issue. Let Rudolphs know that you are there to help facilitate their efforts as much as possible.
No matter what business you are in, or how big or small your company may be, you can be sure that innovators are in your midst. The key is finding them! Like any untapped resource or hidden talent, your Rudolphs are there, just waiting to help take you and your business to the next level.