Be Open to New Ideas and Strategies

What’s worse than a manager that isn’t open to new ideas and strategies?

A manager that doesn’t want them.

The first type of manager can be oriented towards a new way of thinking.  The second type of manager – I’m not so sure.  Try not to be the second type of manager.

So what’s with the picture of the dog? That’s Toby, my daughter’s dog.  I’m featuring Toby here because when it comes to considering new ideas, Toby is a pro.  See how he’s standing inside of a postal box. I was preparing to send a package to my daughter who is in Japan right now. Toby must have known this. As soon as we put the box on the table he jumped in. Apparently, he has no problem with the idea of heading off to a new country to see his favorite human.

I get there are times when things seem absolutely perfect – that nothing needs to change. Enjoy these times, just don’t get caught thinking they can stay as they are. If you think this is possible, I recommend conversations with former leaders of IBM, Kodak, and Netscape.   In business, these three companies are often cited as organizations that either weren’t ready for, didn’t want, or couldn’t handle new market dynamics when they arose.  Markets change. Technologies change. Needs change. If people (read: YOU) aren’t open to new ideas; new ways of doing things, I wish you and your team the best of luck staying on top. And in this case, luck would be needed because common sense would not be on your side.

When it comes to managers and working with change, as I see it, there are three levels of competence, those who don’t want it, those who can work with it when, and those who look for it – those who commonly seek ways to make things better.  Accordingly, I’ll suggest three levels of competence with respect to handling new ideas, managers who suck at it, managers who get along well enough with it, and the great ones. I want you to be great.

About being great in regularly seeking better ways, Kousez and Posner refer to this as Challenging the Process. My only caution here is don’t be one who challenges for challenge sake. Too many people who are in charge of others, like to ‘shake things up’ seemingly for no other reason than to see their team scramble.  They confuse busy with productive. Busy does not equal productive.  What I am suggesting is when your team members bring up ideas for making things better, be ready to consider them.  If the ideas have merit, don’t be afraid to test them out.