Don’t Hesitate. Innovate.

I'm a mom. And I say, "Give me a break." They say that "Necessity is the mother of invention." But why wait until inventions are needed? Why isn't your company always innovating?

I'm a parent of millennials and despite what you've heard – they're not all that bad. They have the answer to your innovation dilemma.

Think about what would happen if you gave your staff more freedom to think creatively about solving the challenges in your business. How different your business might be if you let someone else suggest how things ought to change.

We like to think we make significant changes. We consider ourselves change agents. Truth is, it has probably been a long time since you made a significant, path-altering change in how your business is run. That's largely because you and your top managers are rewarded for making incremental improvements at the company that lead to improvements on the margin of profit. These are not the kind of breakthrough changes that vault your business from competitive to industry leader.

The answers are right in front of you behind the beards and the tattoos and the piercings and the head pointed down at the telephone screen. They look different. And they think differently. They're not weighed down with years of "We've always done it this way." Young people have energy and new ideas of doing things. Jeff Bezos was 30 when he launched Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in college. HGTV was launched by Ken Lowe, a radio executive who was barely 30. How would you react if someone on your staff said they wanted to launch something as audacious as a television network about grass growing and paint drying? But each of these disruptive ideas came from the mind of a young person with older people who supported them.

So meet with them. Once a quarter let the whole staff know you are soliciting ideas from process changers to efficiency gainers. You're open to turning the business on its head and navigating a new course by encouraging employees to innovate. You are likely to get some outlandish ideas. Resist the urge to say, "That will never work" and list 11 reasons why. If you ask for change and shoot down every idea, your change agents will become clones of your former employees. Yes, those former employees you got rid of.

But if you encourage them, what could your business be? Forward thinking. Attracting the best new people because of your reputation. A place that rewards innovation.

And think of how nice it would be to give mom a break.

March 15, 2015 | Pat Bramhall