Like many people, I have my own way of doing things that, for a variety of reasons, have proven to work for me. This ranges from how I manage people and conduct new business initiatives to strategize about future growth. I’d like to say that they are key reasons why Red Door Interactive has been able to achieve consistent double-digit revenue growth since its inception eight years ago.
While I’m proud of our achievements to date, I’m cognizant of the fact that, like the stock market, past success doesn’t guarantee future results; particularly when it comes to running a business. I’m also aware to a large degree that by no means do I have the corner market on good ideas. Because of this, I’m continually on the lookout for new ideas.
The challenge now for me is to realize that my ideas are, in many cases, not the best ideas. I have to maintain a structure that facilitates the percolation and acceptance of the best ideas from every source possible.
Now that doesn’t mean I can afford to have myself or those on my team chase down the latest fad, buzzword or business technique without some due care and consideration to its potential impact. Yet we all recognize that we must be at least open to different thinking and constructive dialogue between ourselves, our customers and our partners on ways to do our job better. I’m convinced such discussions will only make us a stronger and more effective organization.
I would recommend other executives adopt the same, but under the following terms:
Be true to your core values: Executives that are open to new ideas can judge them correctly when they consider their conformity to their company’s core values and beliefs. While products, services and customers may change, an organization’s guiding principles should not. In many meetings we have at Red Door, we appoint a “core values monitor” to ensure that decisions are made in the spirit of our values.
Ask questions beyond your four walls: The introduction of new ideas shouldn’t come from just a select group of insiders, but from as many stakeholders as possible, including employees, customers, partners, friends, families, business acquaintances and the like. They have a foundation of who you are and what you stand for, they have an interest in seeing you succeed and they may give you the outside perspective you need to inject new life into the organization.
Don’t be afraid to try: Nothing is ever foolproof, and sometimes the only true way to know if something will work is to give it a try. While not betting the farm on a new idea, sometimes a test run is the least expensive way to make termination. We tend to prototype things, live with them for a while and then gather feedback for an improved “version 2.0.”
Be honest in the assessment: The originator of a new idea must be able to take a step back and accept productive feedback. I know there are times when I truly believe that a new concept is brilliant only to have the facts indicate otherwise. I know that I can’t make decisions out of pride or emotion, but solely based on facts presented.
At Red Door, we continually evaluate ourselves, our many competitors and the industry landscape in order to evolve. Entrepreneurs who are open to new ideas is a good start, provided that organizations remain grounded to their own beliefs and amenable to other’s opinions and willing to put new concepts to the test.
Oh, and one more thing: these ideas are likely to change. Share your ideas with me, and the rest of the Fast Company community, by using the comments field below.