18 Jul Convention 2023 Reflection: Keynote Speaker – Jeff Havens
It Starts with a Question
The internet, wheeled luggage, the little blue pill and iTunes – These disparate and life-changing innovations all started with a simple question. How could this product or process be improved?
Keynote speaker Jeff Havens shared that these kinds of questions stave off boredom and are key to better engagement at work and improved quality of life. The field of innovation holds numerous examples demonstrating how things could be done in a better way. For example, wheeled luggage. Luggage with wheels was certainly better than lugging around a heavy suitcase by hand, but it took the questions asked by a former pilot and a series of patents to discover a better-designed handle was what actually made wheeled luggage the innovation it truly is.
Likewise, the little blue pill began as a treatment for high blood pressure with an unintended side effect. The discovery soon lead to a new line of pharmaceutical drugs that continue to be earners for their respective companies. Other innovative success stories that started with a simple question include reality TV, the Marshall Plan, the Weather Channel and sleeves for hot coffee cups.
Undistracted Time to Think about the Question(s)
The first rule is that you have to ask the question. Without the question, you’ll never get to explore the answers. But getting to the answers requires dedicated, uninterrupted time to think about the question. This means no multitasking. The brain needs time to go into slow motion and temporarily disengage.
If there are interruptions during the workday, it may be important to set aside some downtime for this activity. Such a lull allows space for the answers to arise. This could be during any regular routine activity that doesn’t require concentration – a shower, taking a walk, going for a run or taking a relaxing drive. With a bit of space, these innovative thoughts may materialize in flash of insight or filter in as smaller pieces that come together over time.
Engagement and Working Toward a Goal
Best of all, you’re probably already using these methods at home in your personal life where problem solving, and innovation are natural occurrences. There are endless examples of this process at work, and we know if one solution doesn’t work, then it’s time to revisit the question with more information.
A similar mindset can be applied at work where approximately two-thirds of employees are disengaged. The ability to ask questions and be asked questions is a big part of making people feel valued and, by proxy, engaged. Demonstrating interest in the work and the problem solving people use in their own area of expertise makes it easier to build buy-in and boost the confidence and engagement of employees. This contributes to the very important feeling of belonging and a sense of community.
This includes having the right people with the right expertise in the role. Good leaders also recognize why it’s critical to include these individuals in the innovation efforts that will support and improve the work of the business. Keep it simple and remember, being innovative and creative doesn’t have to be the difficult process we make it out to be. It’s simply a system of asking questions, something we already naturally do.
Ready to innovate?
Thank you to our keynote speaker, Jeff Havens, and a big thank you to our keynote sponsor KwikLok.