This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab.
de·lib·er·ate > adjective >consciously and intentionally. > "a deliberate attempt to provoke conflict" > verb > engage in long and careful consideration.
I love the word, as an adjective and a verb. Any decision that you make in life – whether in your personal or professional life – should be with some amount of deliberation. I have spent my career in large corporations and innovation is something that companies struggle with; the problem is with maintaining their relevance in the marketplace. We are seeing it in all kinds of industries. With the rise of technology, the way we shop, eat, travel, and manage our finances are being presented with new business models and all of this has been done with deliberation. New start-ups have found gaps in the market, problems to solve, and a way to do things better. For the corporation to survive in this new marketplace, they need to adopt this kind of thinking; They need to nurture the talent from within that exemplify these kinds of behaviours.
In my career, I have never been a 'yes' person. I have always been curious about doing things differently, challenging current ways, researching, trying new things.
The business decisions that you make should be in the best interest of the project or organization that you work for. What ideas could drive high impact, move the needle rather than just going through the motions. I am not afraid to take risks, fail, learn and move on. The reality is that most large corporations are not set up for this kind of a learning environment as much as they may say they are.
I remember the words of the first president that I worked with at Microsoft. He said to me, "Here is my advice to you. Do something, don't talk about changing things and go through the motions of the job, do something that has big impact." Those words were great guiding principles. One of the dangers of working in a large corporation is that you can spend a year in a job and do just that – go through the motions, get caught up in meeting minutia and, before you know it, the year is up. I recently spoke at a conference in Cincinnati and one of the attendees conveyed just that. He was at Macy's for five years and he felt like he did not accomplish anything meaningful.
To become deliberate in what you do requires elements of mindfulness and reflection, which will ultimately improve your performance. To be deliberate means the following things in large, complex organizations; its around how you are spending your time. Ask yourself the following questions:
How much time am I spending on e-mail, meetings and social media?
These three things are time killers. You are simply consuming your time with busy work. If you think that answering e-mails all day is work or by sitting in a meeting is work – it's not. What you are creating and building is the work. I have made a deliberate effort to ensure that I deliver two-three tangible things in every work quarter. Ensure that there is tangible, impactful work that you either contribute to directly or that you lead.
How much time am I spending on modelling possibility?
This is where creative experimentation comes through. To breakthrough with innovation from within, you need to allow yourself time and space to solve problems by thinking through possibilities. I have dedicated my time to research how companies can make innovation more deliberate from within by embedding it into their culture daily. The question you should ultimately ask yourself is, 'how much value am I creating?'
Are you willing to take risks?
Innovation requires being fearless, the ability to make mistakes, learn and move on. Any business that achieved results assumed risk. As children, a big part of the learning process is to make a mistake. Why, as adults and in corporations, do we lose the essence of learning?
Chitra Anand (@chitra_anand), formerly director of marketing at Telus and head of public relations at Microsoft Canada, is involved in the intrapreneurship movement. Intrapreneurs possess an entrepreneurial spirit, driving innovation, creative thinking, and new ideas.