Do we ask our employees to collect dots or to connect dots?
Recently I heard Seth Godin speak to an education conference about how education is taught and what it is for. He said something that I thought was pretty significant, "Do we teach them to collect dots or to connect dots?".
As an employer I asked myself the same question. Is what I'm asking my employees to do collecting or connecting? The ideal is connecting the dots whereas collecting the dots causes us to become stagnant and not grow as a company.
Of course, connecting the dots is what I want our company to be. But how does it apply specifically to my company and my employees? What kind of environment does it take to encourage people to be dot connectors? And for you guys, what does connecting dots mean to your company? What does that even look like? Each company is different. Each company has to dig deep to see how we can encourage employees to be connectors instead of collectors. So I came up with the following exercise to encourage people to connect those dots:
1) Designate 30 minutes each day on areas of interest pertaining to the business. It may be on efficiencies in production/management or product placement in the marketplace. Whatever it is, set aside time to better understand something that doesn't presently exists in the business. Work on an issue that could take the business to the next level and could be beneficial to the growth of the company.
2) Create an award system for new, innovative ideas that are implemented in the business.
3) Restructure your business processes to encourage a better outcome. Seth Godin suggests this is how we teach kids in school. For example, instead of having kids hearing a lecture all through the day and going home and doing homework; instead have the kids listen to lectures after school and then during the day doing discussions, practice problems, and hands-on learning activities about those lectures.
Encouraging business innovation in your company will separate you from the competition. Accepting the idea of "but that's how it's always been done" and continuing to grow mediocrity within your company will eventually end your business. Keep that from happening and innovate a way to connect dots.