“Do we need to innovate?” A Guide to Reflecting Your Organization

Alright, this will be short, sweet and actionable to the max: You will already be right in the middle of reflecting your business by the end of this quick read. It is a series of questions designed to take you out of your “everyday grind” tunnel vision and let you look at your work surroundings with a fresh pair of eyes.

The purpose of these questions is to refine any feelings or uncertainties you might have about whether or not you should innovate how your organization does things – and to give you an idea where to start. Not every single question may be relevant to you; others may jump right out and hit a pain point. A lot of these questions are derived from similar ones in the book “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg; others are my own. So, here we go – let’s ask ourselves:

  • What are our values? Our purpose? Our culture? How does what I did yesterday/today relate to that?
  • How is our organization organized and structured? Does the current design benefit customers?
  • What sets our organization apart from competitors? Are there any “unfair advantages” that benefit us (such as unique talent or patents)?
  • How well does company-wide collaboration work? How does it work remotely? Would the way it works be deemed acceptable if it were a customer experience?
  • Is there a free flow of information or is information hoarded in silos/with certain people?
  • What does “innovation” mean at our organization today? What are examples of successful/failed innovation attempts?
  • Why do we do things the way we do? Are our practices and services based on strong technical/social/economic insights? How is that being validated?
  • Where and how do we find employees and prospects/customers? What do the metrics of these channels (e. g. hit rates/conversion rates) and recent trends look like?
  • What is the customer journey of our prospects and clients like from their point of view?
  • Is alignment of project deliverables and project/company/client goals ensured? How is it tracked?
  • How are decisions made at our organization? Is there a bias towards consensus? Towards excellence? Do the best ideas win regardless of their origin or do they have to be “signed off” by a decider? Are decisions based on data and facts or “experience” and seniority?
  • Why do people work at our organization? Where do those that leave go?
  • Can our employees design the way they work? Are they encouraged and empowered to adapt workflows/processes to fit their individual strengths?
  • What does our organization do to create an environment that breeds innovation and attracts top talent? How much of what we do is unique?
  • How many of our top employees see themselves working here three years from now? How many would leave for a 10 – 15 % raise elsewhere?
  • How are resources allocated with regards to core business/emerging business/radically new business?
  • What do our revenue streams look like (current and historic trends)?
  • How is our revenue divided among business units/service models and how is the profitability of these (current and historic trends)?
  • What are our goals for the next one to two years?
  • How does the market look now? What large-scale trends have been emerging recently and what are we doing to profit from them?
  • What does our imagined success look like? How will we measure it?
  • What needs to happen/change to make this success real? Are we actively working on that?
  • What might happen/change that impedes success or makes our goals obsolete? How would we adapt?
  • What are we doing ourselves to disrupt our own business?
  • The “What if Google/What if Amazon” scenario: How would a smart, resourceful competitor attack our business/client base?
  • Can we take advantage of others’ success? What opportunities can we create to establish platforms that offer increasing value for our customers/revenue for us as the market evolves?
  • How will we scale the services we’re offering?

So by now we should have hit at least one or two pain points – any maybe you got a few new bruises as well. Perhaps you feel something like “Well, we should really be looking into [issue X]. But there is no way to do it – not with our people and especially not with all the other daily business going on!”
In that case I’d disagree with you: Any kind of lasting, meaningful change will have to be co-created by the people affected and has to be validated precisely as a part of the daily business. There are ways to harness the energy that is already there and translate it into new, successful solutions. In fact, doing so can be easier than you might think.

Do you have any useful reflection questions of you own? If you’d like to share, feel free to do so right here!

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