Do outside the box thinking and creating an entrepreneurial work environment go hand-in-hand?
Have you ever wondered if people who say have a nice day really mean it?
It’s an often used ubiquitous greeting that in many cases is unconsciously spoken as an automatic reflex in much the same way that we say “how are you,” as we quickly pass one another on our way to a meeting.
Now I am not suggesting that there is an absence of sincerity in these statements simply because we use them in a rhetorical form in which we don’t expect an answer beyond a perfunctory “fine,” or conversely as a means of saying hello without contemplating what a nice day actually means to the other person. All I am saying is that they represent the convenient protocol by which a normal polite society interacts on a daily basis.
Answering in “autopilot” mode becomes problematic when it mutes or dilutes what should be a genuine call to action. A typical example is when a manager encourages his or her team to “think outside of the box” without really understanding what this involves. Or to put it another way, it is an empty calorie admonishment that sounds good but leads to little meaningful change if it is not backed-up by a specific follow through action plan.
For the term “think outside of the box” to have any real meaning, I believe that management needs to create the right ambiance and safety for people to step out and make a difference. This must include following their own edict and doing things differently themselves! This is a task that is far easier for people who are naturally innovative – you know those who possess the “it is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission” mindset, as opposed to those who embrace convention under a banner of “well, we’ve always done it like this, so why change now?”
This is an important distinction in that it is the foundation for creating a true entrepreneurial environment in which a company’s management or leadership can, by example, empower their people in much the same manner that was referenced in a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “Get Your Team Thinking Like Entrepreneurs.”
Specifically, the article talked about the means by which leaders can empower those within their organization to bypass company bureaucracy in terms of waiting for a project to be approved, and instead take proactive steps towards achieving a needed outcome while awaiting the official OK.
It’s an interesting read in that it demonstrates both an “outside the box” view of a particular situation and the manner in which an entrepreneurial spirit can be both cultivated and capitalized upon to everyone’s advantage, even within the largest of enterprises.
Do you have a story in which yourself or someone with whom you work has demonstrated an outside the box mindset to achieve a desired outcome?