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Mar 25 2013

The problem with the ‘doing what I am told to do’ mentality

There’s an interesting article on Forbes which shares for the first time some survey results from the Workplace Serendipity Quiz. According to the article, the quiz, which aims to measure how effectively respondents see, sow, grow and share opportunities in their work, has been taken more then 500,000 times.

So, a good amount of data on what is becoming a red-hot business topic – innovation.

The results make for interesting reading. They have been grouped into four skill sets based on the answers. ‘Sowing’ is defined as doing the task and proficiency in a skill requires the score to be in the 80 percentile or above.

  • Seeing opportunities – 73 percentile
  • Sowing opportunities – 81 percentile
  • Growing opportunities – 68 percentile
  • Sharing opportunities – 75 percentile

Respondents are proficient at doing what they have been asked to do but fall short when it comes to seeing and growing opportunities around what they are working on and also at sharing this information.

The article concludes:

The results of the quiz are extremely concerning – especially during a time when the US economy and its corporations are looking to renew, revive and reinvent themselves. This requires new types of skill-sets, capabilities and know-how. It demands risk-taking and an environment of transparency, trust and empowerment of the individual to think freely and enable their minds in ways that come most naturally to them.

Taking a bottom-up approach to innovation requires organisations to trust their employees and to develop a culture in which employees are encouraged to look for better ways of doing things. It also requires more open communication and therefore a more open approach to leadership.

The person doing the task is probably best placed to understand how that task could be carried out more effectively, and potentially how it could benefit other parts of the business. They need to know that there is a potentially huge value in thinking more about what they are doing and how that impacts the business rather than just simply doing what they have been told to do.

[Picture credit: Sheelamohan]

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