So, why start a blog post with a picture of a flying car…or maybe it’s a driving airplane. Hard to say. I find the ambiguity of it intriguing.
Beyond the intrigue of the ambiguity, when I saw this amazing vehicle I got thinking about creativity and innovation and what it takes to keep from getting complacent in your success. I got thinking about the state of thinking of the people behind the development of this breakthrough idea.
How differently are they thinking than all the people on our team? The idea of a flying car can generate interest and sustainable levels of excitement. But walls? Not so exciting…I first thought.
Then my thinking shifted to the challenges facing other people who don’t forge careers involved with such grandiose concepts as flying vehicles. What is it like to work for one of the many companies responsible for helping their toothpaste company come up with minty and fresh new ideas of providing dental hygiene. Or, people at work on improving the breakfast cereal experience?
At Transwall we make, install and service…walls. Glass walls, steel walls, laminate walls, double walls. They are thoughtfully designed and together offer options, durability and very high value. They are brought to market by some of the most talented and committed people you will find, but still, they’re walls. When I was recently walking around Washington DC and saw the flying car, I repeatedly considered how enthusiasm and creativity is maintained in most other business with presumably lesser inventive challenges. Really, how could we at Transwall possibly be as creative and innovative when we make…walls?
We’re great at figuring out how to improve what we do in incremental ways. Refine door design to better address acoustic issues, adapt standard hardware for unique specification requirements, and even repurpose an 11 year old modular product from retail store fixture to a highly effective acoustical barrier/wall. What can we do to make that quantum leap into brand new ideas? Driving Planes/Flying Cars?
I decided creativity had to start right at the top…with me. I needed to let everyone know that I was interested in having them come up with creative and innovative ideas for our business. Actually, not only interested but encouraging and expecting them to wow me with their ideas. Some would be good, some not so good, every now and then one would be spectacular.
Everyone was encouraged to share their ideas. No penalties for the silly ones but rewards for the good ones.
At first it was slow. Then the idea flow sped up. Now we have a company full of people always thinking about not just ways to improve what we already do but also about what we can do that we haven’t done before to build our business and fill customer needs.
I must admit, we haven’t come up with something to compare to the flying car…yet. But we have come up with ideas that have led to a quantum leap for Transwall, our clients, and everyone else we touch.
My learning? Creativity and innovation need to be inculcated into your organization. You need to build a culture that encourages and rewards new ideas even if at first they seem crazy. Each and every person, starting at the top, needs to be thinking all the time about how to both improve existing while watching for the completely new. Creativity and innovation live everywhere, the tough thing is noticing them, having the courage to grab them when they appear, and the willingness to completely shake things up in spite of the risk.
Once we broke out of our box, amazing things began to happen and continue to happen as we re-imagine Transwall, our products, our customers, and the way we do what we do. The flying vehicle got me thinking about airplanes. I’ve been flying quite a bit and for the first time ever began to think about how each and every airplane has walls…
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