Through Guy’s Eyes: Pandemic Paradox – The Surprising Secret to Step-Change
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“Cream rises to the top”.
This principle is tacitly accepted as a truism in business. That’s the reason why execs are paid top Dollar, not so? But do they always come up with the best ideas, especially in the tumultuous times of this pandemic? We test this maxim every day and have recently made some counterintuitive discoveries.
Our research into thousands, to tens of thousands of monthly innovations for change and organisational effectiveness across our client base shows otherwise. Our process invites every employee in our clients’ organisations to get involved in co-creating/crowdsourcing solutions to the challenges their organisations face – and particularly in the rapidly evolving demands of this pandemic to transform. We involve everyone – and I mean EVERYONE within our clients’ human capital base, because we witness the greatest ideas to improve the wellbeing of the business to be emerging from the most surprising of sources.
To this end, we recently decided to conduct specific studies into whether recommended ideas to enhance the business’s performance were of better quality at the top or the bottom of organisations. We wanted to establish, across the horizontal strata of levels of seniority, where the highest quality of innovations were being surfaced. The Blueprints Method www.blueprints.co.za opens a flood of ongoing recommended actions, solutions and innovations – top down and bottom up – to distil the very best ideas in driving the business forward in these changing times. These are our findings:
- Scorings of our clients’ Formulas for Success (their unique DNA) identify high-priority focus areas for each leader’s environment: in other words, Micro-Formulas voted for by each demographic for the forthcoming quarter. We research the recommended innovations, expressed by their management and employees, and theme these priorities into concrete actions.
- Improvement recommendations towards these priorities were separated by four levels of seniority:
- Seniority group 1 (Exec level)
- Seniority group 2 (Management level)
- Seniority group 3 (Professional level)
- Seniority group 4 (General employee level)
- Analysis focused on determining common themes and determining which solutions were truly innovative and those most likely to be practically implementable.
- Results are as follows:
- Seniority group 1 (Exec level) Improvement recommendations tended to be the most strategic and least practically implementable in the immediate term.
- Seniority group 2 (Management level) Improvement recommendations were more focused, concerning both bigger picture and practical solutions. The ideas were however only implementable in the longer term and required significant resources to bring to fruition.
- Seniority group 3 (Professional level) Improvement recommendations tended to be in the “Goldilocks Zone” – sufficiently close to the issues to be practical, yet sufficiently abstracted so that the issues to be addressed concerned broader challenges rather than being purely focused on local issues.
- Seniority group 4 (General employee level) Improvement recommendations included locally focused issues such as procedures in factories, warehouse and construction sites, together with more generally applicable suggestions such as changes to processes to improve productivity and efficiencies. These ideas were typically simple and cost effective and able to be implemented immediately.
- In short, the meat appears to be more in the middle of the sandwich. The most innovative and practical inputs come from mid-level employees, while also a significant proportion of the most practical ideas emerge from lower-level employees.
- Ideas from Senior executives at the very top – apart from restructuring plans – are more esoteric and long-term orientated, with often insufficient detail given to practical considerations of how they would be implemented. These are doubtlessly essential, but unlikely to mitigate the lockdown’s impacts for the organisation to pivot for rapid realignment in the near term.
- The results of this analysis show that the ideas which combine both innovation and practical execution were more associated with the middle and lower level of the organisation.
The bottom line of this study demonstrates that there are vastly more untapped intelligence and potential opportunities within organisations for change and enhanced organisational relevance within the context of the pandemic’s altered demands for new ways of delivering customer experience and value creation than are being realised. It’s quite possible – and we think probable – that most of your people who daily see the whites of your customers’ eyes, deal with the reality of your delivery mechanisms, support systems and seek meaning in their daily purpose to add value have the richest treasures to offer leadership in reorientating your journey ahead – right now.
Let us show you how this can all come together.
Guy Martin is the founder & Managing Director of Blueprints: Which has enabled business leaders to drive measurable high-performance across 130 blue-chip organisations in 36 countries