If you came here, expecting references to the solar eclipse, that happened earlier today in the US, you will not find them in this article. Yet, I do have another good source of inspiration that sparked this subject today: Music.
Have you ever encountered people who know better but just don’t care enough any longer to actually speak up about their ideas? No matter if it’s at home, school or work when people’s ideas are ignored for too long, they will keep their innovation for themselves, or for the business scenario, they might take them to other companies or even start their own. This is a terrible state but it can happen, and it’s not an unusual thing to happen either.
So what is this about?
Having a rather large playlist on random play mode last night, I heard the song “Staring at the Sun” written by Bryan “Dexter” Holland and performed by The Offspring. As I listened to the lyrics again after a long while of not hearing the song, I felt a rather strong connectivity to the scenario described above. Most certainly there is a much more emotional and more substantial meaning behind the song, but I hope you don’t mind me referencing it in this article.
Maybe life is like a ride on a freeway
Dodging bullets while you’re trying to find your way
Everyone’s around, but no one does a damn thing
It brings me down, but I won’t let them
When you’re stressed enough with your tasks as is, some people try to invest their time and effort beyond what they have to do to help the team and company into a better state. This is most commonly referred to “going the extra mile” among other similar meanings.
“I have no time for this”…
People try to come up with ideas on how to improve their work, deliver it faster or even automate the processing with the help of technology. When these innovators then share their ideas with their team or pitch them to their boss, they hope for them to welcome the idea and support it to find a way to implementation.
If I seem bleak
Well you’d be correct
And if I don’t speak
It’s cause I can’t disconnect
But I won’t be burned by the reflection
Of the fire in your eyes
As you’re staring at the sun
If the others add their thoughts with proper critique, no problem. That makes sense and adds value. Yet, sometimes they seem to agree with everything but then don’t support it, and nothing happens around it. They will ask and remind those stakeholders, but in the end, nothing will change.
Or even worse, they are directly rejected because their stakeholders are not interested in changing anything. Perhaps both team and boss have grown comfortable with everything and how it is. They don’t want to invest money or effort just to learn to do something new or different.
This end-state could be considered the death of innovation. Might it be for a single person, team, department or the company as a whole. Because, the people with the ideas might not have the energy and motivation to keep sharing their ideas forever, just to see them being unactioned.
When I ran I didn’t feel like a runaway
When I escaped I didn’t feel like I got away
There’s more to living than only surviving
Maybe I’m not there, but I’m still trying
What can you do?
This last kind of people can’t stand the attitude of others. They are unlikely to bond with individuals who don’t share the spirit of innovation or build up a rapport with them. In the best case, they remain neutral to them and account for their way of thinking.
This requires a little bit of “Intrapreneurial” thinking. That means you are behaving like an entrepreneur but within a company and build “your own thing.” This is not an impossible mission. You can still do great things!
Though you hear me
I don’t think that you relate
My will is something
That you can’t confiscate
So forgive me, but I won’t be frustrated
By destruction in your eyes
As you’re staring at the sun
- If you’re an innovator: Keep doing what you do. See something off that can be improved? Improve it!
- If you’re not an innovator: Rethink your attitude. I know “same old” is tempting, but there could be a time when someone else will innovate your business, and that might not include you.
- If you’re a manager: Happy about people sharing ideas? Make sure you actively appreciate them and support them. Even if you just let them go ahead, this helps already. If not, see above.
- If you’re a CEO: Establish a culture that makes people feel their ideas are welcome. Make sure that inapplicable ideas are pushed back with an explanation, and proper ideas get managed through professionally.
Thanks to The Offspring for the reminder and idea to write this article down. If you’re unfamiliar with their music, check out their website. Have fun and keep sharing your ideas!
Any other thoughts or remarks? Please do share your comments below. Many thanks!
YouTube: The Offspring – Staring at the Sun (live)