The changes that you confront today require you to think in new ways. You need to think creatively about the development of your business as if you are starting over. Regardless of what you do, demand is growing with ever-increasing urgency to be creative in approaching every aspect of your organization.
How can you be creative in a time of great change?
The Circle of Impact model focuses on creating impact, which means making a difference or creating change. Ideas, Relationships, and the Structure that support them are the three areas where leaders must take initiative to be effective in creating impact: The Three Dimensions of Leadership.
The aim is to bring them into alignment, strengthened by a clarity of Purpose, Vision, and Values. To understand the true results of your company, you must ask what is the impact of all three dimensions in your decision-making and approach to solving problems.
Many people I know think their business primarily functions within the Structure dimension. This is where all their energy is focused. They believe the Ideas and Relationships dimensions are ancillary ones; drawn upon when needed, but not as essential as the structure of the business.
I’ve found that organizations are not just the activities of a business. The Ideas and Relationship dimensions are important as centers of creative initiative.
4 Starter Questions for Creative Initiative
How can you be creative within the Structure dimension? A good starting point for discovery and broadening your perspective is answering the following questions. Write down your thoughts as we go through the exercise.
To start, what is your purpose for creating impact?
Can you describe this purpose for your organization in one sentence? If not, then the Idea of what is your purpose needs clarification. If you can’t state simply what the purpose of the impact of your business is – what difference it makes – how can you organize your people, the work they do and the relationships they cultivate to achieve it?
Now, answer these questions:
- What is your purpose as a business?
- In what way does this purpose make a difference?
- How is your business structured to fulfill this purpose?
- Are they compatible?
Write something down so you capture what you are thinking right now. There are no perfect answers, only the perception of your business as it exists at this moment.
How to Distinguish Between Measuring Results By Numbers And By Impact
We make assumptions about what a business is based on past experience. We assume that a business is a set of activities that we repeat to produce results. And, the easiest way to determine results is with numbers. It is much harder to measure your business’ results by determining the impact of your business.
Say, you go on vacation. When you return, you don’t talk numbers, you talk about the experiences you had. You show your pictures of beautiful scenery and happy times with family and friends. You don’t show your receipts from the hotel or gas card. You know how much your vacation cost. The numbers matter, but they don’t tell what is most important.
Your experiences are the measure of whether your vacation’s purpose (mission) has achieved its impact. A great vacation impacts you and the relationships you have with the people who went with you. That difference matters and is why you will go on vacation again.
The experiences you had on vacation were personal. They took place in the Relationships dimension of the Circle of Impact. The measure of impact is partially determined by the values that you share.
For example, if you and your family are rock climbers, then you share the values of physical challenge, and if your vacation doesn’t include rock climbing, your experience is probably less than what it could have been. Values matter in determining the difference being achieved.
What Are the Values That Matter to You and to The People Connected to Your Business?
How do your values impact how you have organized your business? Write this down.
For example, if you want to put people first in your business, which many businesses say is a core value, then how do you organize to ensure that this value is living in your business?
Let’s take this to a deeper level of consideration.
The Structure dimension of the Circle of Impact consists of four categories of activity: Governance, Products/Services/Programs, Operations/Administration, and Resources.
- Governance is policy making, strategic development for the future and oversight of the chief executive.
- Products/Services/Programs includes what you are providing to clients and customers.
- Operations/Administration is the support function of the business.
- Resourcesare financial, human and organizational.
What are the policies, procedures, practices, and behaviors that demonstrate how each of these areas is putting people first?
What does it mean for the Board of your company to put people first? Would your employees agree? How about your customers?
How about the support function of product fulfillment? Do your customers think you put people first when they must return an item or get a corrected bill?
The experience with the Structure of businesses is how people measure the impact of the company’s values. If there is a discrepancy between the stated values and their experience, then the company has a problem creating the difference that matters.
Creating Impact isn’t simply saying we value people, it is operationalizing those values into the structure of your business.
Being creative is hard work, but it is the work that elevates your business to a new level. The impact of this hard work is a greater impact, better results, and change that matters for the long term. Presently, if you are not involved in a developmental process that is creating these changes, then you are behind the curve, and harder times await.
5 Business Development Benefits of Creativity for Creating Impact
1. The tangible impact of your business grows.
If you are willing to work hard at it, you could change your industry by following through on the questions raised by this approach.
2. You create an environment of continuity in the midst of change.
The continuity is found in your values, not in your structure. As a result, you are able to build strength for the future.
3. You gain a new level of situational awareness.
You will understand what is happening before others do.
4. You find hope, joy, and satisfaction in going to work every day.
Your life is changed for the better, not just your employees or customers.
5. You create a legacy of impact that you can pass along to future generations.
I feel a tremendous urgency about the time we are living in. We need skills for creating impact in the midst of radical, disruptive change. We must learn how to create the conditions for growing sustainable businesses.
If you are thinking that business is going to be the same tomorrow as today, I’m sorry, it won’t be, already isn’t, and will only be more susceptible to change five years from now.
If you want to take the next step, let me know. I’ll work with you to begin the process of change that makes sense and creates the difference you identify. This is what I do every day, and I welcome the opportunity to work with you.