How kids help to future-proof your organization
Did you know that childlike curiosity is essential for organizations of the future? Questioning yourself not only leads to more focused decision-making, it also fosters a culture of continuous improvement, heightening employee engagement. Yet we find asking questions difficult: it is time-consuming and demands the willingness to embrace vulnerability.
Secrets of the Beehive
This morning, I cycled to school with the kids. Seeing bee hives on the way, our six-year-old son asked me why bees make honey. I briefly paused and then explained that honey serves as food for the bees during the winter.
There was silence. He let the answer sink in before firing the next question at me. "Then why take away their food, Mom?" I admitted not knowing and returned the question. Why did he think we take honey from the bees? Thus began an engaging conversation in which there was room to reflect together on ethical issues.
The chances of successfully achieving your goal increase by investing time and resources only in what contributes to realizing the business goal.
Eline Collin, CFO Services Project Manager
Linking back to the raison d’être
“Why” serves as a compass when making strategic choices. By "why", I mean the organization's raison d'être — its long-term purpose. Companies that always link back to why they are doing something maintain their focus on their long-term purpose. They invest their time and resources smarter. Does it make sense to pursue an activity if you don't know why you are doing it? The chances of successfully achieving your goal increase by investing time and resources only in what contributes to realizing the business goal. Here the principle applies: anything that receives attention, thrives. An organization makes better choices when it knows why they are making a decision. In a McKinsey study, only 42 percent of companies indicate that their reason for existence effectively impacts their decision-making.
Challenging the status quo
The question "why?" encourages a culture of continuous improvement. It encourages critical thinking and creativity. Organizations challenge the status quo by asking for the reason for their actions. Questioning why you do certain things invites people to push boundaries and to continually refine and innovate processes. You will better understand your customer's needs to tailor products and services.
In a world of constant change, those who are unable to adapt quickly to new circumstances and stop innovating will ultimately not survive. The mindset to continuously improve, creates more resilience and flexibility in the organization. In the words of Jonathan McDonald, "The biggest danger you face is that you are in danger of not being able to respond to anything because you are so large and successful."
Organizations challenge the status quo by asking for the reason for their actions. Questioning why you do certain things invites people to push boundaries and to continually refine and innovate processes.
Eline Collin, CFO Services Project Manager
A pinch of participation
Employees who know why they are doing something feel more engaged. When you know the direction the organization is going, you can better assess how your task or role contributes to the bigger picture. Your job has a meaning and a purpose. Add a pinch of participation in how, what, where, and when you do your job, and you have all the ingredients for engaged employees.
Why ask why?
We don't like to question ourselves: it's time-consuming and frightening. Ask people in a company why they actually do something, and you often get the answer that they don't know. Are people not interested in why they do things or have they given up asking for the reason?
Asking questions feels like a waste of time. It feels counterintuitive. The irony lies in the fact that when we decide something without keeping the end goal in mind, we lose time because of the adjustments needed afterwards.
Asking why is courageous. How will the other person respond to this question? Are you supposed to know the answer to this question yourself? Does the question feel threatening because it gives the impression of holding someone accountable? Reflection leads to substantial change and that is frightening.
Conclusion. The childlike wonder of your employees is your biggest competitive advantage. It not only brings engaging conversations about bees, but also creates reflection in organizations. It leads to more focused strategic choices and brings innovation, efficiency and creativity. Looking at your organization with an open mind is courageous. Encourage it, cherish it and enjoy it!
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