Okay, you’re in a meeting with your management team. You’re all trying to figure out how to make your company outstanding, so that you can get off that plateau you’ve been hanging around on for the past three years. Your numbers have been flat, your company has been flat and for the most part your team is flat with a malaise that makes you all feel like you are stuck in the quagmire of inactivity. It has been months since anyone has come up with a new idea that could just possibly thrust your company off that plateau and into the future. But, every time someone comes up with an idea, you all reach for the fifty reasons why it won’t work before she even has a chance to get it out of her mouth.
“Nope, tried that five years ago and it didn’t work.”
“We sent out a newsletter once and a couple of customers didn’t like it.”
“If we make that special offer to attract new customers, our current customers are going to hear about it and complain.”
“Advertising doesn’t work, it’s a waste of money.”
“Anyway, where would we advertise? Nobody reads anymore.”
“If we start giving discounts to win business, we will lose our shirt.”
“That website is fine, and besides it’s only seven years old, its not time to change it yet.”
“No, we are not hiring any freaking millennials. All they care about is microbrews and no-tuck shirts.”
“We really don’t have to do anything. Just take it easy, just relax and the orders will come, just like they did in ’78.”
“It’s the economy, all you have to do is watch T.V. to see how bad it is, there is nothing we are going to do about that. We just have to wait until it turns around.”
“I don’t care if our competitor is full and doubling his business every year. He is giving it away and eventually he’ll go out of business and then we’ll get that business back…just you wait and see.”
We have all been there before right? We have all sat around staring at one another, daring someone to come up with new and innovative ideas, that we can readily shoot down. So, what can we do about this? And, don’t tell me that there is nothing we can do. Don’t even dare tell me that we have to ride it out. Because, if that is what you want to say, then why bother to stick around at all? Wrap it up right now. Close down your company because you have just declared it useless and without a future. Or, better yet, call my friend Tom Kastner and have him sell it for you. He’ll find a buyer who is more aggressive and more innovative, and more creative, than you are; and wait until you see what that person does with your “useless and hopeless” company in less than a year.
Or better yet, you can do something about it. You can work on motivating your team to come up with ideas, good ideas, that will work if you apply yourselves to their implementation and if you stir up a little bit of passion and a little bit of enthusiasm you will your company kick-started again.
Here are a few simple rules for creative, fruitful, and innovative dialog that will get your team and your company moving again.
- Set a goal, just one goal based on where you want your company to be in six months. Or twelve months.
- Now get those collective gray cells going on how your can make that goal. From that goal work backwards and list the steps it will take to make that goal.
- Have creative and productive and open dialog. There are no bad ideas. Give everyone the freedom to dream without the ridicule of negativity.
- No one in the room can knock down an idea without providing a better or at the least alternate idea that might work better. The accumulation of these ideas will lead to strategic tactics that will lead ultimately to achieving your goal.
- Allow creativity, yes allow it. Encourage crazy ideas from your craziest people. Crazy ideas are the basis of most of the great inventions in the history of civilization. Allow creativity.
- Have fun. There is nothing more rewarding and yes more fun than being part of a team that sheds its doldrums and starts thinking with energy and intention.
And that is pretty much all you have to do. Look, I’ll let you in a little secret. Just about any plan you come up with as a team, as a team that is the key thing, will work if you all have the passion and enthusiasm and the persistence to carry it out. Any pretty good plan becomes a great plan, with the proper dedicated implementation. It’s only common sense.