“We started off in the right direction, but at some point, the project went sideways.” 

I’ve heard that line many times before. People start with the right intentions, but a multitude of factors can influence how a project or new initiative unfolds. When you have a sense of what’s expected at each level where change is taking place it can be easier to manage the process along the way.

Creating change in an organization requires people to work together. Between the people that generate ideas, the teams that develop them, and the organizations that bring deliver them to customers, there is a large margin for error when people are not aligned in their work. 

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.

Albert Einstein

I like to say that it requires bold individuals, nimble teams, and flexible organizations. When done well you can fundamentally alter the course of people’s lives, a company’s trajectory, or even the direction of the economy.

Here are 33 questions to get you thinking about creativity, managing change, and making an impact at all levels of your organization.

{*} Bold Individuals – These are people are willing to speak up, connect the dots, and build support for new ideas. Sometimes they are generating the ideas, and other times they are working with others to gather the best ideas and figure out how they can be put to use.

  • Do you know who is willing and able to generate and share new ideas?
  • Who is able to effectively work with and guide others in their creative journey?
  • Do you provide timely feedback?
  • Do you treat all ideas equally?
  • Do you provide top cover to people exploring new initiatives?
  • How do you identify people that want to get involved but may not be willing to speak up?
  • How do you balance strong individuals with strong teams?
  • Can you align the vision of individuals with good ideas with those of the organization?
  • What kinds of resources are available for individuals to develop ideas?
  • How do you continue to nurture the next generation of talent?
  • How do you define success and failure?

{*} Nimble Teams – Small groups of individuals working together towards a common goal are a great place to work with emerging ideas. Support can be built for them as they are tested for introduction to a customer or the organization as a whole.  

  • Have you given your team enough time and space to generate new ideas?
  • Do they have clear expectations and guidelines for what you need them to do?
  • How do you harness the power of strong individuals so that the entire team benefits?
  • How quickly can your team adjust to changing client requirements?
  • Do you have a system or process to research and develop new initiatives?
  • How fast can your team bring an idea to market?
  • Have you created a budget to explore emerging markets?
  • Are teams aware of the company values?
  • How do you handle disagreements on the team?
  • Who makes the final decision on the team?
  • How do you define success and failure?

{*} Flexible Organizations – Multiple teams often define corporations. Having them work together seamlessly can go a long way to helping people manage change and adapt to new conditions. Successful organizations are committed to their primary goal but open-minded enough to entertain mature ideas that filter up from the team level. 

  • How do you integrate ideas from a team into the broader organization?
  • How do you manage people and teams that are resistant to change?
  • How are growth initiatives introduced to the rest of the organization?
  • Is innovation part of your culture?
  • How does your organization manage change?
  • How do you handle new ideas that are not part of your current innovation process?
  • Do you empower individuals to take responsibility for their role in the organization?
  • What stories define your organization?
  • How quickly can your organization change direction?
  • How much risk are you willing to accept?
  • How do you define success and failure?

As you think about how to build what’s next for your team, be sure to consider not just good ideas, but how they can be pushed through each level of the organization. Knowing how to take ideas from development to delivery to a customer requires persistence and commitment. And a lot of patience as you work with people at every step of the way.

[Image: New building at a nearby soccer park. The combination of materials is unique and made me think of the extent to which designing and constructing a building is the consummate team effort.]

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