How Disruptive Thinkers Can Induce Change Among Small Business Management

This is part three of a three-part series on disruptive thinking. Part one provides a general overview of disruptive thinking and explains why it can be a valuable component of small business management. In part two, we provided tips for managers looking to tap into the power of disruptive thinking. Here we provide some ideas for being a disruptive thinking in your organization and promoting that culture among your colleagues.

Now that you understand the importance of disruptive thinking, and your managers know that these ideas should be heard, we’ll teach you how to become a disruptive thinking force to be reckoned with…

Let’s discuss some tactics you can use to become involved in the disruptive thinking game.


Why is this important?


The need for change begins with you. You want your work to have a purpose. You want to feel like you have ample opportunities to make a difference.

You may feel like you’re alienated from the innovation process, and inducing change can be like trying to ride a ten-speed uphill in first gear. But when you make it a team effort, it can be like racing downhill on Clark Griswold’s specially-lubricated sled. There will still be obstacles, sure, but less resistance and more support makes for a more enjoyable ride.

Here are a few tips to get you and your colleagues ready to inspire change through disruptive thinking.


Take a new spin on brainstorming


Creativity is a solitary endeavor for some, while others spark their creative engine by escalating ideas in a group setting. Allow yourself an hour per month with nothing but a blank pad and a pen. Use the time to think of ways you can disrupt the norm and make the company better, or ways to rethink your personal productivity. Are you overly distracted by incoming emails? Do you have a better alternative to numerous internal meetings? You will get the time you need to relax and recharge, and come up with ideas to show your small business’ management that you can make things easier and more efficient.


Document your thoughts


When you’re able to organize and write down your ideas, you have the ability to edit and re-edit until what you want to present is just right. Ask for a whiteboard where you can jot down items as they come to you, whenever the idea strikes. Working on a project and feel that something could speed completion? Jot it down. At the end of the month, use your “brainstorming” hour to not only come up with new ideas, but refine processes for those you spouted off throughout the recent weeks. When you’re ready to present to management, you’ll have already answered the potential negatives, and they’ll have no choice but to agree with your groundbreaking innovations.

What’s the right motivation?

According to Bruce Strong, partner at CBridge Partners, a consulting organization for businesses and non-profits, "Money is generally the worst. Pride in company, pride in personal accomplishment, and being able to meaningfully contribute are generally much more powerful and enduring. If you use exigent motivation like money, essentially what you're saying is, 'I'm going to pay you money if you find the cheese.' What happens is that employees will take the shortest route possible to get to the new idea. Innovation and new ideas often require a circuitous route. Brain science shows that the money just means less and less over time, so you just have to keep upping the amount. If you want to get ideas from employees, they need to understand the strategy of the company. Only about 10 percent of employees can describe their strategy. Oftentimes employees are asked to have really high quality in their work. Quality is actually sort of the enemy. New ideas and innovation are often sloppy. You have to embrace uncertainty. Innovation by definition is something that hasn't happened before." Can you describe your company’s strategy?

Reconsider your teams

Shaking up the “old standby” company personnel structure can stimulate disruptive thinking. Small business managers are often guilty of tapping only a tiny portion of employees’ creative talents. Identify your strengths and try requesting to create new groups with a balanced mix of talents and demographics to reach specific goals or complete projects. For example, younger team members can infuse fresh ideas and energy while veteran team members can draw from experience to provide insight and improve those ideas.


Disruptive thinking in action


In part one of this series, we discussed how the unbroken aspects of your business are often the best candidates for innovation. Take expense reporting, for example. You may have done it the same way for years. And management may think it “works” just fine – tasks get completed, reports are submitted, employees are reimbursed, etc. But suppose someone in your organization (you) challenge the status quo, and through research, recommends switching from manual expense reporting to expense management software.

The result is – a process that wasn’t broken becomes much more efficient. Your accounting department no longer needs to enter data into a spreadsheet. You can submit, view or approve expenses via your mobile device. You now capture electronic transaction data directly from your vendors and line-item details are automatically uploaded to expense reports. Paper invoices and receipts are a thing of the past. Tasks that used to take a few hours now take a few clicks. Real-time visibility helps you identify new opportunities to get more bang for your buck, and you can now perform audits based on best practices and your company’s personalized rules. And because this small business technology is easier to use, your colleagues are happy to adopt it, which also increases compliance.

For something that wasn’t broken, that’s a lot of fixes. What are the best candidates for innovation at your company?   Now that you’re a disruptive thinking pro, learn how expense reporting affects every part of your business, and why shouldn’t wait to be asked to fix it. Go disruptive on it!

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