Are We Getting The Best From Our Team

Recently I have been following and participating in a discussion on LinkedIn regarding the question of “What is the root cause of the mindset that fails to put customers first”. There are a whole host of good observations and viewpoints on the topic. These, range from, the greed of executive leadership, to ivory tower thinking to the lack of “servant” mentality and so on. I think we could ask this question of each of the organizations we work in. Recent studies have pointed out that, customers expectations continue to fall with respect to customer service. This does NOT mean that the customer is happy about the situation.

I think there may be another reason for this apparent disconnect between organizations and their customers.I say apparent because most organization (although I’ve met a few who don’t think much of their customer) want to deliver value to their buyers. What happens?

One observation is with the suggestion box. Many of us have worked in or with organizations that have one. Perhaps executive leadership in their zeal for unlocking the creative juices of the organization have even offer a cash reward for creative ideas. People want to contribute to the success of their companies and they really thrive on recognition. So what happens?

The ideas begin to flow. The suggestions come in. The senior leadership examines the suggestions. Remember now in many cases senior leadership is in a leadership position because they are the “experts”. When the suggestions do not fit in their box of experience, expertise and point of view, the suggestions are disposed of or watered down at best. Because it is not obvious, where the revenue stream will come from or what it will cost, the idea is squashed. As a result, the creative juices of the organization are blocked.

Tim Brown in his book Change By Design, suggests that in order to make this kind of initiative work leaders have to make a serious commitment to step out of the box to examine the creative ideas and to unlock the value in them. There has to be a commitment to trying ideas that may fail.

Realizing that as leaders, managers and creators of value, each of you wants to unlock the creative juices that lie latent within your organizations; what commitment will you make this year to nurture the flow of ideas? How will you identify the next I-phone or game changing process?

Take Good Care,


  1. Hi John,

    There is no question that our experience shapes our belief systems. And our belief systems shape our actions. So concepts outside of our belief systems are met with skepticism, or worse.

    The other aspect of this discussion that is interesting is that we go our of our way to hire really smart people. If we are going to do that, shouldn’t we at least listen to them?

    Keep up the good work…


  2. John

    Lip service in short. That’s what we get in spades. No business wants to fail but how much of the organisation’s people potential are we using? Not enough I would wager – not nearly enough. My best guesss – and I always hate adopting broad brush approaches but here goes – is <50%. All that latent potential is parked somewhere else. In my view it is not until a business starts to look at the internal motivation issues so that all those creative juices begin to flow that the ideas culture will be truly meaningful. There is a lot of science around this but the best book at the moment is Drive by Daniel Pink (@DanielPink). This gives scant regard to the carrot and stick approach and makes the reader think about the three most powerful internal drivers: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. I for one am not prepared to park 0.5 myself at the entry door and even if that means sometimes not settling for 2nd best and disturbing the status quo then so be it.

    Best wishes

  3. Julian,
    Thanks for the comment and for the reference to Pinks book. I agree with your assessment of the book and the motivators. The next step is building these motivators into the organization. I think Mastery and Autonomy are easier than Purpose. We can extend autonomy and I recently watched a client build a series of career steps to mastery. Getting people behind the purpose and mission I think is a real opportunity.

    Take Good Care,


  4. Very interesting topic, John. I want to add the comment that the reason that most organizations don’t get more feedback from their teams, is because most teams don’t believe that their feedback is taken seriously. Organizations that have a reputation for creativity and encouraging ideas from their employees will likely always perform organizations without that reputation. Unless the concept of employee feedback is specifically encouraged, employees assume that it is discouraged. Putting up a suggestion box is often viewed by the employees as an attempt to pander to them, rather than as an attempt to engage their creativity. Their belief is that the management team either ignores their suggestions, or reads them for entertainment value only. Organizations must create a culture where employees understand and BELIEVE that creativity is both encouraged and rewarded.

  5. Dave,

    Thanks for the comment. My experience has been that we teach our teams what to expect. Most individuals want maybe even yearn to make suggestions that will help their organizations. It’s when they submit them and they are shot down or worse yet they get no feed back that they become discouraged.

    Take Good Care

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