As an innovator, my job is to keep abreast of the market, to understand what industry leaders are doing, and to identify the best solution for the problem. So why is it that we are so risk averse? We often install the lowest common denominator solution, when we could be at the forefront of the industry.
When I worked for the Metropolitan Police, I was surprised about how much power was given to the lowly Police Constables (me included), where their suggestions were turned into actionable solutions. I started on the beat, wearing my “tit” helmet, and doing the hard yards on the ground. My specific skills were quickly identified, and I started being involved in testing new technology, identifying products that would benefit the Police. Products such as ANPR and mobile data terminals which can now be found in Police Services around the UK and abroad.
The Metropolitan Police is a strange organisation, much like the Armed Forces. You all have a warrant card (most wear a uniform), and your title doesn’t always reflect your role. Yet every cop delivers solutions. Whether that is solving a dispute, a crime, or what piece of technology to use. They’re given the power to solve them, and they come up with the best solution they can. Senior Management trust the decisions made by them, as they’re pretty much always the best for the Service. It’s not about the individual glory, rather the fact that you rely on your brothers and sisters as much as they do you, and you do what feels right.
It’s the way I’d like enterprises to be. So much of what I see is about personal glory, winning the battle. Yet who wins the war? When someone leans in to a conversation and says “Oh, you should do this”, who rolls their eyes? Now, I’m probably as guilty as the rest of you of having done it, yet I’ve learnt when I am about to do it, and I turn it into a question. “So what should we do?”.
I can’t profess to be the expert on every piece of technology. Yes, I’m a geek. However, that’s why we employ specialists. I take their knowledge, and turn it into the best damn solution possible.
The best damn solution might not be popular. After all, some people invest a lot of time and effort in knowing one technology, yet it might not be the right one. So by presenting the right solution, I want to stand there and discuss it with anyone from the top to the bottom of the organisation, showing them why it’s the best decision. There is always one difference though, the top of the organisation has to trust that the right solution is being delivered as much as the bottom does. That takes leaders who want to change, and trust that their staff are making the right decisions.
A company’s maturity is not just about whether it has the right documentation, the processes mapped, and the implementation of changes appropriately managed. It’s about trust from Senior Management that their staff are doing the right thing. As we move through Agile into a post-Agile world full of Chefs, Puppets and Bamboos, the decision making is passing ever downwards, where authorisation isn’t sought, let alone required.
And that’s where true leadership is required. Nurturing that responsibility and ownership throughout their organisation, allowing others to say what the best solution is.
Solutions are like opinions, everyone has one. And we know what opinions are attached to..