What is your team’s process to best serve customers?
The process for innovation is not restricted to traditional meetings or brainstorming. These components exist, of course, and they can be helpful but they are not the answer. True innovation lies in tapping into the collective intelligence of the members of an ecosystem—and creating partnerships. That includes all of the internal teams but it may also include the work of others outside our core team.
This may sound simplistic, but it really is this simple: I demand what my customers demand. I make it clear that we must excel within five attributes at all times. This is the baseline of requirements: a demonstration of integrity, urgency, action, accountability, and emotional intelligence. Innovation on a piece of paper is interesting, but what my customers require are the products and services that will enable them to live, work, and play however they choose. We innovate by listening; by understanding their needs; and by sharing ideas and quickly turning those ideas into action. Innovation lives and breathes and is a part of our daily work process—we do not turn it on and off, because we know that we innovate or we lose customers.
Why is innovation important to a person’s long-term career success?
The corporation has a strategy; I don’t have to invent that. What I have to do is take that core set of values and goals, and figure out how do I expand those? How do I capitalize on those? How do I ensure that I am maximizing what the corporation is expecting of me to a level that they would never imagine? That’s innovative thinking, which means to never stop thinking, never stop looking for the next opportunity, and never settling. That type of thinking will lead you to great career paths in any company.
This article originally appeared in the June 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.