In my last blog post, I defined the term HEROes (highly empowered resourceful operatives) and I wrote about how you can identify who your current HEROes are as well as create an environment which encourages new ones to action. As a quick recap, HEROes are your employees who go above and beyond the standard protocols to do their jobs, and this sometimes means taking initiative to use technologies that have not yet been introduced to your company through your IT department. Today I want to write about how to best manage HEROes. There is a fine line to walk between empowering front-line innovation and minimizing risk and chaos.
In some cultures, this unsanctioned use of outside technology is frowned-upon. But this will no longer be good enough. In others, especially service-oriented businesses, HEROes and the solutions they find and implement are key to success. Technological innovations are occurring exponentially, and most of us can’t keep up, let alone foresee how to harness them for process improvements in our business. So a lot of this improvisation by HEROes is happening in real time. The customer has an issue, and the employee is empowered to resolve it. Thus the first step in managing HEROes effectively is to indeed remember that you want to encourage this behavior and that it is good for the business.
Encouraging HEROes While Minimizing Chaos
- First and foremost, innovations must benefit the business.
- Encourage initiative; create a forum for innovators’ ideas to be heard.
- Don’t squash half-baked ideas; involve others to improve the idea instead.
- Create guidelines and limits for when to involve others.
- Provide strategic direction where the company and customer needs exist.
- At the same time, remember that HEROes may have unique insight into customer needs.
- Steer managers, executives, and the IT department to be more open-minded.
- Document how unsanctioned technology was used to assist a customer.
- Look for patterns that can help your business create, improve, or scale up a new process.
- Learn from failures; celebrate, publicize, reward, and build on successes.
- Create case studies from both successes and failures that can become the basis for training.