Innovation in the Corner Office…

One of my favorite columns is Corner Office which appears on Sunday in The New York Times,  Adam Bryant interviewed Terry Tietzen, the CEO of Edatanetworks on March 25.  There are many good ponderables in Mr. Tietzen’s responses.

On Innovation:

Innovation doesn’tt just happen at your desk. It happens in the weirdest places and times. You get ideas through watching the world, and through relationships. You get ideas from looking down the road. You have to be available to adapt on the fly. In real innovation, being comfortable isn’t good. I don’t want to be comfortable. I always want to be on edge, because that edge gives you energy and excitement. What’s new? What’s next? That’s how you stay ahead.

This one is awesome.  He was asked about creating a sense of urgency on a team:

On a small innovation team, you do quick sprints every day and learn on the fly. So part of innovation is just asking again and again, “What did we get done?”

That’s why I have every team member send me an update every day. No matter where I am in the world, I get an update.

When pressed on what he wanted to know from these updates, Mr. Tietzen said:

Simple, high-level things. What they set out to do today and what they plan to do tomorrow. That way, they can feel the progress. Part of the progress is being able to have them included in the journey, not just feeling isolated. They need to feel it like a wave. It comes up and down, and it’s never perfect. By sending me three or four bullets every day: “what I did today, what I’m doing tomorrow,” they see short-term goals much easier than feeling overwhelmed by a goal that might seem hard to imagine reaching.

It’s so true.  I am a big fan of this approach. It helps instill accountability. Plus, there is a definite feeling of accomplishment when you can see items crossed off your list as you focus on getting things done. My Dad used to come home from work and ask, “What did you get done today?” He put that concept in my head early on.

Great tip, for sure!


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