As readers of this blog know, I’ve long been interested in innovation. Is there a creative gene? Are you able to develop it like a skill? How can company culture be changed to improve the odds in favor of creative teams?
The International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State University offers programs in creativity. Chris Grivas and Gerrard Puccio wrote The Innovative Team to make fifty years of research at the institution available outside of the academic institution. Gerard Puccio is department chair and professor at Buffalo State University, and Chris Grivas is an organizational and leadership development consultant.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Chris about the book and his observations on innovation.
What first started your interest in innovation?
Back in the days when I was in college, I had what can best be described as a “grunt” job. It was long days with people vying to work the weekends where they would get extra pay. Most of my colleagues did not have college degrees and few could have hoped for a better job. They seem resigned to accept this state of life rather than work on improving their options. Why would people settle for a life like this? What would inspire them to do something more and find a way to make it work? I talked with friends and professors about it, and one answer that came up made a lot of sense to me – it’s about how they use their creativity. If they were confident in their ability to create new alternatives, they may become inspired to innovate their way to a better life. Now that was a topic that got me excited, so I went on to explore it in graduate school.
You decided to write this book in story form. Why?
Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the world’s authorities on the customer experience. Shep Hyken is an author, speaker, and consultant to some of the world’s largest companies. He is a member of the National Speakers Association’s Speaker Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement and is a member of the distinguished Speaker’s Roundtable. His books include The Loyal Customer, Moments of Magic, and the bestselling books The Cult of the Customer and his latest The Amazement Revolution.
In The Amazement Revolution, Shep outlines seven powerful strategies to increase customer and employee loyalty. As Shep says, the Amazement Revolution is, “The strategic decision to remake your organization or your team based on the principle of amazement.”
It seems simple, but it’s profound. What if you and your organization really remade everything in your company around creating an AMAZING customer experience? What would happen?
These statistics from Harris Interactive emphasize with numbers what we all know: customer service matters. We are more likely to stay with a company, to recommend a product, or to buy more services from companies who do it well. And, when we have a negative experience, social media can become an outlet for frustration.
I’m a believer that everyone in a company is in customer service. Decades ago, Peter Drucker said, “There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.” Servicing the customer is central to success.
Someone, who I will call Michael for this post, once told me, “If you want to know what Michael thinks, ask Michael.” Apparently Michael had seen this before. Many of the things he supposedly said were distorted when others repeated them. In some cases, his supposed conversation simply never happened. And this was a recurring event.
There are many reasons this can happen. It could be simple miscommunication or a mistake. It could be the sign of a manipulative person. It could also be a damaged culture, creating conversations to serve various political interests. The fact that it happens frequently is definitely a concern. The fact that others may run with it without verifying it is also a concern.
Yogi Berra once said, “I never said most of the things I said.”
Joel Manby is the incoming CEO of SeaWorld and the former CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment. Herschend is the largest family owned theme park in the US owing 26 locations including Dollywood and Stone Mountain. If he looks familiar, you may recognize him from his appearance on CBS’ Undercover Boss.
Joel’s is the author of Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders, a book about practicing love at work. Talking about love at work may seem strange coming from a hard-charging executive who spent years in the automotive industry before joining Herschend. After reading this book, I could tell that Joel meant every word of it. Still, I had to start with the question about love at work.
This is a business book, but the title and the theme are all about Love. Joel, you were an executive at GM, Saturn and Saab. It’s all about metrics. Numbers. Results. But, you say no, Love Works. Tell me more about your transition from hard-hitting analytical executive to someone who sees love as a business success factor.
It’s still about metrics; the key question is which metrics? At HFE we measure all the standard business metrics including financial results, customer scores and employee scores. We all have to hit those numbers. In addition, we are also measured on HOW we go about hitting those numbers. We are all evaluated on the seven words outlined in Love Works. In fact, the top raises are given to those who hit both measurements; and all senior leaders are expected to be good at all of the above.
“Stick to your values in all circumstances.” –Joel Manby
How do you define personal success? Corporate success?
I define personal success as being consistent to my own personal mission statement: to love God and love others. I can achieve that in a number of personal endeavors; but feel blessed to be able to achieve it in a growing, profitable business. Corporate success should be defined the same way: ultimately, what is the mission statement of the company? Ours is to “create memories worth repeating.”