In many environments, it seems that we’ve routinized creativity in leading and managing key activities and developing talent right into oblivion. It’s death (or at least plodding slow performance) by routine.
A Few Examples of Death by Routine:
Talent Development-What I See: promotions and professional development are reserved for the annual performance review.
Talent Development-Reality Check: there’s nothing sacred about the moment in time during each year when HR is interested in dealing with these topics. Great managers and leaders operate on a perpetual clock and calendar when it comes to defining and implementing professional development programs, and when a promotion is merited, it is given, regardless of some artificially imposed cycle.
Talent Development, Part 2-What I See: talent and career development activities focus almost exclusively on getting to the next rung on the ladder.
Talent Development, Part 2-Reality Check: the best talent development work you’ll be part of (either as a manager or as the one under development) involves exposure to new experiences. For some reason, the idea of job or assignment rotation seems to have disappeared from our corporate cultures as managers strive to move their team members upward from position to senior position to extra senior position. Silo politics, unenlightened management and general lack of creativity are reasons for the absence of assignment rotation. Bring job rotation back in your environment and reap the benefits!
Team Leadership-What I See: the person with the most seniority, the boss, or the one with the biggest title is automatically the team leader. This one feels like a throwback to the biggest kid on the playground gets to pick the teams.
Team Leadership-Reality Check: the real team leaders should always be the people who are best at working with other people.
Marketing-What I See: marketing activities and programs are carried over from year to year in what is one of the most egregious acts of corporate anti-creativity that results from spreadsheet-focused budgeting processes. Do you really need to invest in that same tradeshow or that same ad space year after year after painful, boring year?
Marketing-Reality Check: just because your competitors are doing it doesn’t make it right. Budgeting and planning are important, however, failing to rethink your approach to engaging and delighting your clients and engaging new clients is a systematic failure of marketing management and shows a wholesale lack of creativity.Try something new by building white space into your plans and budgets to experiment with marketing approaches. Create your own events instead of only attending industry events. Add a twist to freshen up otherwise stale activities. Marketing is too important to not be in a perpetual mode of experimentation in pursuit of improving the ability to find and acquire and keep customers.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
Defense of the status quo is too often the driving force behind a firm’s processes for managing, leading and cultivating talent. Institutionalized approaches to planning and dealing with talent issues are the tools of those who count beans, crunch numbers and have an irrational need to jam everything into order and routine and predictability. Unfortunately, the world is not orderly and it is most certainly not predictable.
Practice the fine, comfortable art of routine at your own peril. Experiment and you’ll fail from time-to-time, but that failure puts you one step closer to doing something new, different and hugely valuable for some one, some team or some firm. Experiment more and prosper.
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