Monthly Archives: June 2014

Innovation – Radical and Incremental

26 Jun
by Bridget DiCello

In what area of your business have you innovated so far this year? How about last year – what was your main innovative accomplishment? Sometimes innovation is organic, and you improve your current product or service. And sometimes innovation comes in the form of buying something that improves or transforms the way you do business.

Incremental innovation is the type that smart companies will do every week – based on feedback from customers, challenges they face and employee input and suggestions. Daily processes and systems are reviewed for opportunities to increase efficiency and productivity, and the product or service offerings are continually improved based on a desire to do things better, be more profitable and stay competitive. Radical innovation is the type that transforms a business, requires the willingness of the company to go beyond incremental improvements, is most often based on the dream goals of a visionary leader or entrepreneur, and is discovered through the work and input of the team.

It’s very important for leaders and entrepreneurs to stay in touch with their dream goals, even if they might not be realized in the near future. Revisiting them, sharing them with the team, and every once in a while, spending an afternoon researching and working on them, all brings them one step closer to realization. These goals are the basis for radical innovation.

Yearly goals, even if they are ambitious, often do not push the leader or the team members to move outside their current comfort zone, and beyond the incremental improvements that are routinely accomplished by dedicated employees.

Challenge your current processes based on your dream goals. If you haven’t identified those dream goals, spend some time doing that – what do you really want your company to accomplish? If you haven’t shared your dream goals – share them with your team: “Someday, we are going to…” – and they will start thinking and strategizing with you. Set aside a half day once a month to work on the goals – no matter how distant they may seem amid daily fires and challenges.

How have you come up with your greatest innovations?


11 Jun
by Bridget DiCello

All businesses set out to make money, but many don’t watch their profitability closely.

At the risk of covering the basics, humor me for a moment. Have you ever gotten so busy doing business, working with customers, getting new customers, paying bills, delivering your product or service or putting out fires that you don’t pay attention to whether or not you are making any money doing what you are doing?

What was your profit margin in May? What were your profit margins on each type of product or service, or by job or client? What do you want or need your profit to be able to invest back into the business and still retain some profit for the owner?

Even if your profit margins were good, your total dollars of profit may not be enough if your sales are not high enough to cover your overhead costs.

Increasing your margin comes from setting your prices correctly and decreasing what it costs you to produce and deliver your product or service. If your teams are killing themselves and you still struggle with profit margin, maybe you have to look at your pricing. If your pricing cannot go any higher based on the market, you need to ensure you have talented people doing the job well the first time, effective communication with customers, tools and equipment that work well, and systems and processes that are efficient and eliminate waste.

If your bottom line profits are not enough, often you have to ask yourself if you have created a company that running at its best, will produce a profit? If your current team is productive, efficient and running at capacity, and your profits are still not what you want them to be, then maybe your ‘machine’ is broken.

If either your profit margin or profitability are not where you want them to be, don’t just work harder; stop and determine exactly where the problem lies, and work deliberately towards a solution. Too often, hard working people will work their tails off doing some of the right things, but also some of the wrong things to improve profitability. For example, taking care of customers may always seem like the right thing to do, but if you are doing it because an error was made by someone on your team, or you are spending time on a far less than ideal client (based on your niche), then you are not contributing to an increase in profitability.

What are you working on in June to increase your profit margins? What initiatives are you working on in June to increase your overall profits?


Leaders Engage!

04 Jun
by Bridget DiCello

Leadership is so much more than doing tasks; and so much more than being a charismatic cheerleader.  It’s about leading people to Greatness – regardless of your specific goals, and in order to meet those specific goals.

Have you had someone who has pushed you to Greatness?  Who has helped you become a better or stronger person personally or professionally?

School was always easy for me and I greatly appreciated the professor who pushed me to not only take a full credit load my senior year in college, but to add a few more classes, including an independent project, work with him to publish two papers, present at a conference as the only undergraduate, and network actively with alumni in my field.  And the hardest part of the tasks was not the considerable time I spent, but the fears and shortcomings I had to overcome to do those things – most of those activities were well outside my comfort zone.

Do you have a comprehensive strategy for pushing your team members out of their comfort zone, supporting them in the process, holding them accountable for taking the first step, persisting through obstacles and growing into new areas of skill and ability?

With a good team, you can run a company successfully, make a profit, minimize turnover and keep customers happy without ever achieving Greatness in your team.  But, people on your team, and your company, are capable of so much more!  Typically, we will not move outside our comfort zone without prodding from someone.

If you find yourself saying that you don’t need prodding and that you are always looking for the next way to challenge yourself – realize that that may be true because you are the entrepreneur or business owner.  Even business owners who thrive on new opportunities have comfort zones.  Maybe sitting down to connect with employees in curious conversations is outside your comfort zone because it doesn’t move fast enough for you.

Based on your goals, what do you really want your individual employees to be able to do or do better?  Are you ready to set some ambitious individual goals for employees, get them talking about how they will reach them, and help them determine the first and next steps?  Then are you ready to walk with them on a journey of professional improvement with a series of accountability coaching conversations?

This requires a level of engagement form you as the leader that many leaders will never display for one of a few reasons:

  1. Their drive to move the company forward and seize new opportunities is so strong, the thought of employee development, especially at the deliberate pace it takes to connect with someone in order to be able to lead them to Greatness, is not appealing.
  2. They delegate the task to a middle/front line manager who doesn’t know how to coach the employees.
  3. It can be exhausting.  People don’t change easily, even in exciting, new and upward directions.  Overcoming fears and areas where one lacks confidence are tough things to do and not all leaders can stomach those conversations.
  4. The leader thinks the employees should do it on their own.  They probably will do some professional development, but I may never have thought of publishing the two books I did if I hadn’t published papers in college – pushed by my professor.
  5. Sadly, some leaders do not have a genuine interest in the professional development of their individual employees.  They can create good companies, but never great ones.
  6. They just don’t know how.  It’s a very specific set of skills that very few people are just born with.  I certainly wasn’t.  If you want to develop these skills further, give me a call and let’s talk.