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Britain’s infamous private detective Sherlock Holmes excelled at finding out stuff. Renowned for his logical, deductive, linking mind, he is exceptionally great at uncovering items that are not otherwise observed or understood. He was great at bringing things out that were already there but unseen.
The best gift you can give someone is an idea. Ideas spark hope, motivation and a beginning. The more ideas we can generate, the greater the opportunity for positive outcomes to occur. The more connections we make between different ideas, the better the potential for greatness. Compare the effect on culture in a team that encourages ten times more ideas than its competitor does. Imagine the difference in morale, togetherness and thus employee turnover in those two organizations.
In her book Radical Candor*, author and former Google executive Kim Scott speaks of the ‘ideas team’ she created, thinking that many small inventions are impossible for competitors to reproduce. The large concept can be copied, but the roots of the cause of greatness will never be understood by outsiders, lending to significant advantage in the field. It is based on a Harvard Business Review article referenced here: https://hbr.org/2008/02/getting-the-best-employee-idea.
The goal is to be swimming in ideas. So many in fact that the chances of more great ones surfacing explodes. If this is not culture-based thinking, I don’t know what is.
provides the canvas for others to paint the masterpiece they could not have crafted otherwise.
This does not mean you need to need to come up with every idea or have the answer to every problem. Great leaders create environments where more ideas surface, are heard and considered. The leader does not have to be Sherlock, they simply have to create streams for him to be present in more people, who are crazy enough and unafraid to risk bringing them forward. When the environment is safe, the temperature is right and the people have spark, the lights will go on more often and light up your world.
In the world I work in, we light the lamp with a tool called Peanut Butter Dogs. We have a global spreadsheet that everyone has access to. Anyone can list an idea and name it something fun. They are problems or innovations to make things better. They record their name beside it and on spare time people work on something that interests them. They have purpose and can own a piece of the business by making it theirs. They like coming to work more because of it and they spend more time thinking about improvement instead of gossiping or complaining. The clever names of these problems put a positive spin on negative recurrent issues and they help us establish our own internal language. This unique internal vocabulary brings us together and unifies us in a special way from the outside world. Where a complaint would normally have potential to generate jadedness, it now creates an excitement and hope that the problem will be solved and someone will be forever positively recognized for it. It also has helped us uncover some hidden talents that people have that would have otherwise remained buried. For example, we have been lucky enough to Sherlock that Jacob is amazing at developing spreadsheets. Who knew? We have built a ton of workflow efficiencies with new Excel documents that have no doubt prevented errors, added checks and balances and we now spent less time doing it, for ever.
Unlock the power of the Sherlocks on your team and make the lights brighter forever. Seems logical, almost elementary.
*Scott, Kim Radical Candor: how to be a kick-ass boss without losing your humanity. St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY. 2017.
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