The “Dewarding” of Ideas & Extra Effort

“Coming up with a great idea or new innovation to help the business/organization is a great thing for all.”

“Driving an under-resourced or otherwise daunting project to on-time success through grit, determination, and superhuman effort is even better.”

The above 2 statements are both correct and at the same time, untrue in most businesses. They are misnomers (if not outright lies) if management speaks them to employees. Think of them as the Shroedinger’s Cats of business behavior. Dead and alive, true and false, at the same time.

Despite all the evidence that encouraging and rewarding those behaviors will drive success, the norm today is to 1) spurn new ideas and innovation (because staying the same is seemingly easier and less risky), and 2) rather than recognize and reward a herculean effort from an individual (with time off or other perks and accolades), to raise the bar and make that level of effort the new minimum standard of effort and/or replicate the project across other areas (effectively giving the person exponentially more work as their “deward”).

Based on these common practices, only new hires (who only do it once btw), and self-motivated, deadline obsessed gluttons for punishment are idea-generators who give extreme effort to ensure daunting projects are on-time and successful.

There are exceptions to this sad reality however, so that’s where we should look now:

-Exception 1 – Most Non-profits: These organizations have an actionable, non greed-based mission statements. Through their training, positive reinforcement motivational practices, and passionate management (including activist Board members), they each typically have an army of extra effort, innovation-generating brand evangelists (whereas most companies have rank and file employees and managers).

IMG_8395.JPGException 2 – Peter Drucker-ian Businesses: These are the rare businesses that live the teachings of history’s greatest expert on management (and marketing for that matter), rather than just hanging his quotes on the wall with a picture of the Harvard rowing team.

Embedding in their company Drucker’s teachings on the role of the Board, mission statements, managing and motivating “knowledge workers,” and truly understanding both your target customer’s problems/needs and “what business you’re in” (from the perspective of the customer) make the first two statements the norm for these exceptional businesses and organizations.

peter-drucker-quote-how-can-we-overcome-the-resistance-to-innovationThink about your organization and how it really acts on a regular basis. Odds are that in real practice, you’re the norm, not an exception.

If you and your management team haven’t read “The Essential Drucker” in the past year, it will be the best 4 hours and $20 you’ve ever invested.

Interesting note, “The Essential Drucker” book has a section on what business can learn from non-profits, so the 2 categories of exception are really closer to 1.

Finally, to quote Larry Wilson on giving extra effort on every project at work to get ahead, “My old man worked hard. All they did was give him more work.”

Yes, that quote was from “Weekend at Bernie’s” but that doesn’t make it less true. Make it not true at your organization and have a REwarding 2015.



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