Bruce Merrifield 2018-02-07 18:21:39
The science of small-win innovation Inertia is the enemy of innovation. We all know how hard it is to change personal habits. Even New Year’s resolutions last, on average, only 15 days. And replacing corporate habits with robust ones also can be daunting. WHAT ARE SMALL WINS? Small wins are progress points on the way to a goal or mini-accomplishments that add up to a big goal. The big goal can be vague and intimidating such as “Creatively prepare the house for holiday guests.” To tackle it, the science of small wins suggests: • Start anywhere and then the bigger vision and innovation will emerge and crystalize. • See how many two-minute clean-up actions you can do in a row. • Say “YES!” upon each completion for a dopamine spritz to the brain. • State out loud what your next deliberate action will be. • Just keep moving. • Spontaneous micro-choices spark accidental micro-innovations and some take off! • Little chunks done in one room add to a room that is done well-enough. • Move to the next room. • Repeat. • Working with a teammate multiplies both joy and grit. MAKE SMALL, STRATEGIC BRIGHT-SPOT BETS Initially, no one wants to look at, own or even solve what the company does poorly. Affirmative inquiry advises us to instead tackle the bright spots better. For example: “Don’t lose any sales from your most net-profitable accounts.” And, “Try to win more sales — if possible — with some extra service value effort.” Now, break this big goal into small-enough bits to not be fearful: • Do a customer-profitability ranking report. • Pick one top account that is the most-friendly and open. • Audit your product and paper flow through the account looking for replenishment inefficiencies. • At every branch, have all employees memorize the top five most-profitable customers per branch. • Teach and empower them to perform “heroic acts” for these accounts. • Start a weekly “Good News” (praising statement) publication to share your small wins. WHAT WILL HAPPEN? CEO audits of the best accounts yield huge, small wins — one account at a time. A customer replenishment system tune-up team will evolve for the top 1% of accounts. The published praising statements, initially earned by the top 5% of your can-do people, will rally most of the herd to follow. In other words, inch-by-inch, small-win innovation is a cinch. Ask Bruce: Longtime industry consultant Bruce Merrifield is an expert on high performance service management and is one of the most successful turnaround advisors for wholesale-distribution companies and channels. Each month Bruce will answer your distribution-related business questions here. Have a question for Bruce, email Chief Editor Mike Miazga at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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