Lead a Good Life

Daily hints and tips to enhance your life

How To Deploy Innovation And Have Everyone Participate


One of many myths about ideas that lead to innovation is that it comes from individuals or by a small group of creative human beings working together in an isolated room. But in fact, if we take a closer look in Thomas Edison, Ted Turner, Jeff Bezos, or even Steve Jobs, they are able to develop great ideas as results from interactions with many sources.

Anticipation on innovations, no matter how small, is a good basic for an invention, still, leaders has to nurture the right condition for innovation to grow. Here are 4 ways to connect as well as to grow and to make innovations possible:

1. Change The Organization Structure

For many years, organization structures has directly or indirectly isolated changes and innovations from the other departments, where these kind of conditions will not bring any effect on the company. To make changes in organization definitely need a structure which can actively help growth of cross function interactions.

If you are a leader, try to raise these questions:

  • Do we have the infrastructure for innovations to be possible, which can delivers these innovations matching roles in every level of the company and involves everybody? Or whether the organization structure keeps on positioning innovations as an exclusive responsibilities for certain function or group?
  • What steps has been taken by the company within the past year to promote functions and departments to share ideas and knowledge?
  • What can we do to facilitate direct communication, person to person in all parts of the company instead of developing the traditional system that sticks on top-bottom approaches?

2. Create Open Market For New Ideas

In many companies, new ideas are scarce commodities, strangled by company cultures that disregard opportunities and need. Companies that are serious about changes must create a climate (culture) where every person within the company can contribute ideas, whereas the ideas are considered workable, they will be supported with financing and proper resources to make it happen.

Few questions that can be asked by leaders:

  • Does the management really believe that mediocre worker can also innovate?
  • Does companies develop a “change democracy” where anybody from any level within the company can raise their ideas?
  • What have we done to communicate – verbally or by actions – that everyone in the company are encouraged to be a pioneer?
  • If someone or some groups come up with new ideas, how difficult it is for them to gain supports, morally and financially from the top management?
  • What have we done within these 12 months in using imaginations, know-hows or ideas from people outside of the company?

3. Use the Web In Developing Imaginations

Usually, information technologies utilized in companies end without any clear articulation of the benefit and functions only for simple and explicit knowledge management tools. Instead they have to learn to use this as a system for boosting innovation, which involves peoples in the company – and millions outside – in a global dialogue with innovation as it’s primary focus.

Questions to ask:

  • Have we create discussion forum, where conversations about innovation is the main topic within the last 24 months?
  • Have we use information technology infrastructures to distribute needed responsibilities to propel new ideas throughout divisions in and out of the company?
  • Does the intranet has something to do with inspiring people to develop their thinking as to show them how an innovation project can be initiated?
  • Can we use the infrastructure to create opportunities and rebuild projects that had no clear purpose?

4. Spend More Time For Interaction

Companies who want to promote innovations better create opportunities for their workers to interact with people working outside their business unit, people outside their geographic region and ideally outside their corresponding industries. Find ways to connect between different groups directly to share their point of views and create ideas together.

Another questions to ask:

  • Within the last 12 months, has everyone in my division has the opportunity to participate in company held innovation projects?
  • How often my company/division/business unit held events and forums for knowledge sharing and cooperation?

With those all 4 steps, companies can ultimately possess a field full of innovations, which in turn boost the organization to a new unprecedented level.

Image by scleroplex

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Career, Change Management, Leadership, Workplace Improvement | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Invaluable Abilities

When you hear the word “work”, you probably imagine sitting in front of computer, or cutting grass in the front yard. In fact, there are three important aspects that lots of people don’t realize

1. Ability to Pay Attention

Paying a good attention requires a lot of efforts, To do it right, you have to listen, and maintain proper eye contact. That’s not all, you will also need to think and digest about those things you are hearing at that moment. On another note, even you have this urge to cut the conversation and speak, you may not. You have to wait your turn for giving comments or to ask something back.

2. Ability to Admit

Admitting that you don’t understand is a way to gain additional information or knowledge. We can have this by asking, but admitting that you need help to finish a job or project that you run is even more important.

Many people do not want to admit they have messed up. They worry that it will ruin their perfect images, result in more works for them, or being blamed by others. Nevertheless, keeping on pretending as the perfect one makes us incapable of learning and growing.

3. Ability to Show Gratitude

Thanking someone for helping us should not be something that has to be told. It should be spontaneous. They just helped us and they will know the sincere-ness in our gratitude. There’s been a lot of stories about decent people that return lost wallet, saving lives, didn’t get any gratitude at all.

Sometimes, however funny it sounds, people feel embarrassed that they need help or have just lost something, but that should not block their way to show their form of appreciation.

December 8, 2008 Posted by | Career, Intra Personal Skill, Leadership | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Take Monkeys Off Their Shoulders

One of the primary duty of leaders is to develop their people, that includes sharpen their competence in problem solving and decision making. So you have to realize that the danger from load of tasks that will occur if you take over their works. But what if you are being held on a deadline and somebody ask you to handle ‘one or more monkeys’ – problems that should be dealt by sub-ordinates, popular terminology that was introduced by William Oncken Jr. and Donald L. Wass in their article “Management Time: Who’s Got The Monkey?” from Harvard Business Review 1974.

Here are few tips that you can possibly do.

1. Let Them Work

To many people, the pathway to effective delegation starts with studying two basic assumption of their roles. First, a lot of managers believe that handling their people’s problems is a faster and more effective than teach them to handle it themselves. Second, they also believe that they know more from their people.

These assumptions, will only raise the need of managers to break the problem and make decisions, instead of delegating and empowering their men. To deal with this problem, you have to position yourself as a leader, not a manager. Managers deal with details, while leaders, on the contrary, raise sense of belonging and responsibilities in their people.

2. Ask, Don’t Tell

Professional delegator choose to ask their men, rather than dictate the solution to them.

The question “What is it that you think should be done?” stimulates people to come with solutions when they approach you. Another additional questions like “What is the effect of this action?” or “What is it that we need to pay attention to if we are to go your way?” could also reveal how far have they think about the solution to the problem.

3. Match Person With The Job

Avoid adding your current jobs with handling your people’s problem. This can only happen if managers delegate the right job to the right people, according to each competence and potential.

Steven R. Covey stressed about delegation based on interest. “Find out the best outcome and the most preferred job of your people” he said “Then combine their unique talents and interests with job needs. When people work with interest and desire, they don’t need guidance. They will eventually create creative solutions independently.”

4. Cultivate Independent Thinking

If someone manages to think independently and feel that he own his job, then he will definitely bring less problem to his boss.

Shane Pliska, Business Development Director of Planterra, a landscape interior company, uses “monkey rating”, a method extracted from Oncken and Wass’ article. “We ask the workers to self assess their problems with numbers,” she said. “One means your manager solved it for you. Two means your manager told you the solution and you follow the solution, three means you proposed a solution and seek approval from your manager, while four means you took action, solve the problem, and let you manager know afterwards.”

When people came to their boss’s chamber, managers will ask “what number is on your current problem?” To raise the sense of belonging, Planterra managers encourages their people to have number four on every problem as much as possible.

5. Connect Them With Resources

Connecting your people with resources will also help you reduce your load. Think about the term “resource” in wider perspective, like human, tools, information, and opportunities that can help your men to work independently. Being the matchmaker between your people to the resources is actually not hard at all, like “You can talk to Mr X in marketing division.”


So, take that monkey of their shoulders immediately, let them deal with their own monkeys, because you already have your own, right?

December 7, 2008 Posted by | Career, inter personal skill, Leadership, Stress Management, Workplace Improvement | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Art Of Letting Go

What I’m about to share to you is a case that happens in Gucci, one of the most high-end apparel label in the world originated from Italy. This happens about a decade ago when Gucci was faced with financial problem, family feud, and counterfeiting issues. The company was in a downward spiral at that moment because of a poor management.

Then they hired Tom Ford, a top notch designer from America to handle everything from design to product launch. Suddenly, there were signs of life. Tom worked very hard to get the company going and has done a great job according to the original shareholder, the Gucci family.

Then the shareholder changed, which means that the Gucci family is no longer in control. And the current shareholder was not amused at the “already much better” performance of the company because they think that the company was too “Tom-centric” that decision was so centralized even a mid manager could not or dare not decide for small things. This is also worsen by the celebrity status that Tom possess.

Then they changed the company CEO. They summoned Robert Polet, a Frenchman from Unilever, a huge company in consumer goods industry. Polet was handling ice cream business before he was asked to lead Gucci.

The media and fashion world was somewhat shocked by the shareholder’s decision to sack Tom and have Polet at the helm. How come an “ice cream guy” which strategy was a mass marketing and mass production can run a very delicate business of ultra niche market like Gucci had? There were jeers and boos heard from everywhere, yet the show went on.

Surprisingly, Gucci now has managed to perform much much better even compared to the moment when Tom left the company. In an interview with Polet, he revealed the secret that made him succeed. He knew that he is not a fashion guy and he will never be, so instead of doing designs, he managed to hire people to do it for him and for your information, Gucci has many brands under it’s belt that it is just almost impossible to undertake the task centrally. Polet called it “the art of letting go” that he gave full authority and responsibilty for each business unit to perform their activities and decide everything that’s necessary to achieve the goals that they had agreed before.

Now, there are three positive insights in this business case:

1. Always get the right people to do the job.

Before you have the right people on your bus and before you let the wrong people off the bus, never set the bus direction. In every business, it is not the hardware, or the system, product, appearance, or even quality that’s the most important. You will never have those if you have the wrong people working with you.

2. Give Them Direction and Watch Them Grow.

Jack Welch of GE has illustrated that managing people is like planting seeds in the right soil, then all we have to do is water them then sit back and watch them grow. Of course, occasionally, we have to pull out some weeds, but basically, it is like planting.

3. Be adaptive to changes.

Don’t be trapped in complacency. It is every leader’s biggest pitfall and unfortunately happens only on successful ones. Current condition work only for now. Yesterday might not be relevant anymore. And things have to improve for tomorrow. Set new objectives, challenge yourself and the team for better target. If the water is too still, it’s not alright. If you get all the brains moving, your company will move forward also.

November 30, 2008 Posted by | Career, Change Management, Leadership, Self Improvement, Workplace Improvement | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Charisma – The Invisible Power That Gives You The Edge

Most people think of charisma as something mystical, almost undefinable. They think it’s a quality that comes at birth or not at all. But that’s not true.

Charisma plainly stated, is the ability to draw people near you. And like any other traits, it can be developed.

To make yourself the kind of person who attracts others, you need to personify these pointers:

1. Love Life

People enjoy leaders who enjoy life. Think of people you want to spend time with. How would you describe them? Grumpy? Bitter? Depressed? Of course not. They’re celebrators, not complainers. They’re passionate about life. If you want to attract people, you need to be like the people you enjoy being with.

2. Put a “10” on Every Person’s Head

One of the best things you can do for people which also attracts them to you is to expect the best of them. I call it putting a “10” on everyone’s head. It helps others think more highly of themselves, and at the same time, it also helps you. If you appreciate others, encourage them, and help them reach their potential, they will love you for it.

3. Give People Hope

French General Napoleon Bonaparte characterized leaders as “dealers in hope.” Like all great leaders, he knew that hope is the greatest of all possessions. If you can be the person who bestows that gift on others, they will be attracted to you, and they will be forever grateful.

4. Share Yourself

People love leaders who share themselves and their life journeys. As you lead people, give of yourself. Share wisdom, resources, and even special occasions.

When it comes to charisma, the bottom line is otherminded-ness. Leader who think about others and their concerns before thinking of themselves exhibit charisma.

Now, to improve your charisma, do the following:

1. Change your Focus. Observe your interaction with people during the next few years. As you talk to others, determine how much of your conversation is concentrated on yourself. Determine to tip the balance in favor of focusing on others.

2. Play the first impression game. Try an experiment. The next time you meet someone for the first time, try your best to make good impression. Learn the person’s name. Focus on his interests. Be positive. And most important, treat him as a “10”. If you can do this for a day, you can do this everyday. And it will increase your charisma overnight.

3. Share yourself. Make it your long term goal to share your resources with others. Think about how you can add value to five people in your life this year. They can be family members, colleagues, employees, or friends. Provide resources to help them grow personally and professionally, and share your personal journey with them.

November 28, 2008 Posted by | Career, Change Management, Intra Personal Skill, Leadership, Self Improvement, Workplace Improvement | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Character – The Single Factor That Delivers

How a leader deals with the circumstances of life tells you many things about his character. Crisis doesn’t necessarily make character, but it certainly does reveal it. Adversity is a crossroads that makes a person choose one from two paths: CHARACTER or COMPROMISE. Every time he chooses character, he becomes stronger, even if that choice brings negative consequences.

As Nobel prize winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted, “The meaning of earthly existing lies, not as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering, but in the development of the soul.” The development of character is at the heart of our development not just as leaders, but as human beings.

What must every person know about character?

1. Character Is More Than Talk

Anyone can say that he has integrity, but action is the real indicator of character. Your character determines who you are. Who you are – determines what you see. What you see – determines what you do. That’s why you can never separate a leader’s character from his actions. If a leader’s action and intentions are continually working against each other, then look to his character to find out why.

2. Talent Is a Gift, But Character Is a Choice

We have no control over a lot of things in life. We don’t get to choose our parents. We don’t select the location or circumstances of our birth and upbringing. We don’t get to pick our talents or IQ. But we do choose our character. In fact, we create it everytime we make choices, to cop out or dig out of a hard situation, to bend the truth or stand under the weight of it, to take the easy money or pay the price. As you live your life and make choices today, you are continuing to create your character.

3. Character Brings Lasting Success With People

True leadership always involves other people. As the leadership proverb says, if you think you’re leading and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk. Followers do not trust leaders whose character they know to be flawed, and they will not continue following them.

4. Leaders Cannot Rise Above the Limitations of Their Character

Have you ever seen highly talented people suddenly fall apart when they achieved a certain level of success? The key to that phenomenon is character. Steven Berglas, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of The Success Syndrome, says that people who achieve great heights but lack the bedrock character to sustain them through the stress are headed for disaster. He believes they are destined for one or more of the four A’s: arrogance, painfull feelings of aloneness, destructive adventure-seeking, or adultery. Each is a terrible price to pay for weak character.

To improve your character, do the following:

  1. Search for the cracks. Spend some time looking at major areas of your life (work, family, marriage, service, etc.), and identify anywhere you might have cut corners, compromised, or let people down. Write down every instance yo can recall from the past two months.
  2. Look for patterns. Examine the responses that you just wrote down. Is there a particular area where yo have a weakness, or do you have a type of problem that keeps surfacing? Detectable patterns will help you diagnose character issues.
  3. Face the music. The beginning of character repair comes when you face your flaws, apologize, and deal with the consequences of your actions. Create a list of people to whom you need to apologize for your actions, then follow through with sincere apologies.
  4. Rebuild. It’s one thing to face up to your past actions. It’s another thing to build a new future. Now that you’ve identified any areas of weakness, create a plan that will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.

“Never “for the sake of peace and quiet” deny your own experience or convictions” – Dag Hammarskjold

Source: The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader – John C. Maxwell

November 28, 2008 Posted by | Career, Change Management, Discipline, Intra Personal Skill, Leadership, Self Improvement, Workplace Improvement | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Change Leader

One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it.  In a period of upheavel, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm.  To be sure, it is painful and risky, and above all it requires a great deal of very hard work.  But unless it is seen as the task of the organization to lead change, the organization will not survive.  

In a period of rapid structural change, the only ones who survive are the change leaders. A change leader sees change as an opportunity.  A change leader looks for change, knows how to find the right changes, and knows how to make them effective both outside of the organization and inside it.  To make the future is highly risky.  It is less risky, however, then not to try to make it.  A goodly proportion of those attempting to will surely not succeed.  But predictably, no one else will.

“If we want to change the situation, we first have to change ourselves
And to change ourselves effectively, we first have to change our perceptions”
(Stephen R. Covey)
source : The Daily Drucker – Peter F. Drucker

November 25, 2008 Posted by | Career, Change Management, Intra Personal Skill, Leadership, Self Improvement, Workplace Improvement | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listen To The Ideas Of Others

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen”
(Ernest Hemingway)

If you think you know it all, chances are you will be too busy listening to yourself and how great you are to have time to listen to anyone else.  Listen to your people in your team.  They are the ones who knows to work with the resources and the products. They are the ones at the cutting edge and they may well have ideas, good ideas.  Talk to them.  Get their feedback, their ideas, their creativity.

But you obviously have to be careful to make sure that although you are listening to them, that doesn’t mean that you are going to act on every one of their ideas.  Listen, assimilate and then decide based on what you’ve heard, your own experience and ideas and what is practical.

You have to listen without always giving the signal that you will necessary use their ideas, so then they won’t be disappointed when you do something completely different.  But you can make them think their ideas were incorporated into your overall strategy.

If you regularly doing this, ask good questions and listen without prejudice, you’re immediately in a different class to most leaders.

source : The Rules of Management – Richard Templar

November 21, 2008 Posted by | Career, inter personal skill, Leadership, Workplace Improvement | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Most Of The Time We Are WRONG

What do you see from the picture above? Is it rabbit? Or Duck? Or something else perhaps? (please tell me what you think). Now I’m sure someone smart like you could already relate the picture with my post title.
Many of us, husbands, wifes, parents, and leaders, have their own judgment towards situations and other people. The life long lesson about being self confident and decisive, however, must be reviewed once again. Because in fact, most of the time, whatever we do or decide could probably be wrong.
This is a matter of being objective. If we pull ourselves far enough to see things clearly, we will be surprised that human are just selfish and generally always think that he/she’s right. We feel so confident that we feel that we don’t need to consult on others of what good or bad the outcome would be from the other side.
Many people fail to see this as something important and not surprisingly, especially for leaders, they lost their influence.
Here are … tips on how to make a good call without stepping on other’s feet
  1. Listen more, don’t talk so much, even if you feel like talking, don’t do that, because when you start to talk, people listen, and you will not capture their thoughts this way.
  2. After done listening, don’t start by making statements immediately, instead, make questions and dig more.
  3. You may want to hear from more related people if there’re any.
  4. Then you can formulate a wise call that accomodate their needs and last but not least, your need also.
  5. After you make the call, see it through, because it shows your commitment and you will win other’s respect instantly by doing so.

So, being decisive is not a matter of how fast a decision is made. But how a decision is formulated is much more important. A slow, but correct decision is worth many times rather that a quick but wrong one.

November 15, 2008 Posted by | Career, Intra Personal Skill, Leadership, Self Improvement, Workplace Improvement | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Think Strategically

“To think strategically is to think with discipline and make informed decisions
about the direction you want to go” – John Wood

Thinking strategically is a learned skill. You develop strategic savvy by asking smart questions, digging for answers and looking past assumptions or “truths” that limit your perspective.

You’ve probably never given much thought to your strategic thinking process. It’s non an easy-to-evaluate skill, like typing or writing memos. But now that you’re a leader, you must demonstrate your ability to think outside the box and attack challenges with intellectual vigor. Get in the habit of asking penetrating questions to your team and giving them the time to research the answers. The more you ask, the more you and they will learn.

Running a SWOT analysis helps you think strategically. Identifying the pros and cons, along with the opportunities and dangers that might arise, enables you to assess how to proceed. Involve your team in this exercise. Welcome their input and brainstorm freely. This gives everyone a change to make each other smarter.

The following are some tips to improve your strategic thinking :
Dig down at leas three layers : look deeper than just the surface of the problem. Keep asking “why” until you find the root cause.
Perform triage : focus only on the most compelling, revealing strands of information to avoid getting buried in a dumping ground of data.
Weigh all sides – and all consequences : think ahead to identify the repercussions of a strategic decision.

source : The Manager’s Handbook – McGraw Hills

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Career, Leadership, Self Improvement, Workplace Improvement | , , , , , | Leave a comment