“In a world that is constantly moving forward, if you are standing still, you are falling behind.” – George Couros.
The need for continuous improvement and innovation isn’t a cliché any more, it’s a reality for all industries. What are you doing to create an environment that challenges the status quo and seeks to find ways to progress?
One the biggest limiting factors I’ve seen that hinders teams and companies in their ability to continuously improve and innovate, is the inability to think of any possibility outside of something that already exists.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve challenged or asked people to consider or identify an improvement to a process, only to have them come back with a process that’s purple instead of red, but the same on the inside.
This kind of thinking can be frustrating as a leader, especially when you know there’s a better way to do things, but don’t have the time, knowledge, or know how to do it. If you don’t have a team of naturally innovative minds, here are some of the ways I’ve helped people reassess their processes when they are stuck thinking inside their box.
- Ask questions. There’s nothing like a couple of well-placed open-ended questions to provoke critical thinking. Example, “If you could change one thing in this office that would make your life easier, what would you change and why?”
- Borrow from other industries. Having people on the team that have worked in different industries can be a huge asset. If they know something worked well in a real estate office for example, it’s a lot easier to adopt a tried and true practice into your business.
- Have someone on your team who is unfamiliar with the area you are reviewing, learn that area. If your team has already done cross-training and there weren’t any process improvements identified, then either you have amazing processes or your team went through things on a superficial level and blindly accepted it.
- Invite curiosity. I can’t help it – I’m naturally curious. If something doesn’t logically make sense to me, I’ll question it. Even if it does make sense – I’ll question it. “Why are we doing this?” or “Why are we doing it this way?” can create an opening to a conversation that may lead somewhere you hadn’t expected. Challenge your team to be curious and create the space for it to happen.
- Run it by someone outside of your office. It can be hard to see different possibilities when you are deep in the box. Reviewing the issue or process with someone outside of your office, allows for things to be looked at objectively without considering everything else you are carrying inside of the box. A word of caution – don’t shoot any ideas down. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “that will never work because of X reason.” Unless you tried that reason exactly, at least consider or reconsider it.
Enjoy all of the new possibilities and don’t forget to share them with your Practice Building Coach!
Director of Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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