1. Seek out deeper understanding of other functional areas in your company
To become a more proactive leader and better understand how you fit into the value delivery for your company’s customers, move beyond a functional mindset and truly understand the needs of the other areas of the organization. Develop a habit of learning something new about a different department each week, whether through company newsletters, written resources, or going to lunch with a colleague from another area to learn about their challenges.
Some of the most interesting “aha” moments have come during a company happy hour when people are relaxed and open up about their work frustrations. Understanding that annoying problem and what the person is trying to accomplish can open up your mind to what your colleagues really need, even if that’s not what they have been asking for.
This broader perspective widens your decision-making framework. It helps develop an appreciation for different business priorities, and could provide you with insight to recommend innovative new options that will enhance the project delivery phase of your overall process.
2. Leverage experience and best practices of industry experts
Whether it is the first time your company is doing a migration to a new technology or if you’ve done the same type of work a hundred times, there are resources that can increase the odds of success and higher performance. For large efforts such as moving onto newer systems or transitioning to a new project management methodology, taking advantage of experts that are proficient in change management and that have experience doing the same work at other companies can provide the insight and perspective to help avoid common pitfalls and increase the likelihood of success.
A report by IBM found that the cost to fix an error found after product release was four to five times as much as one uncovered during design, and up to 100 times more than one identified in the maintenance phase. Leveraging industry experts that can identify these types of errors up front can save tens of thousands of dollars and weeks of time on a larger project.
Bring in best practices and new ideas from the industry to develop new solutions and attain higher performance levels in your project delivery process.
3. Broaden your perspective outside your industry
Finally, it is only through activities that challenge you to reach beyond an industry mindset that new mental models and truly disruptive innovation is likely to emerge.
Pay attention to disruptors in other industries and the underlying reasons they were able to take root. Are there any parallels to your industry that could be explored? Airbnb and Uber have inspired sharing economy business models in a host of other industries. What sorts of combinations of this business model or other disruptive approaches could change the game in your industry? Then envision how someone in another part of the world with a small fraction of your resources may handle the same problem.
Expanding your perspective can lead to a virtuous cycle of applying new insights in different areas of your life. For example, while managing software development for my career I also volunteered at a non-profit working internationally and had side work in real estate. The organizational and management skills proved valuable to the non-profit and real estate work, while the perspective gained from working next to people in another country with a very different culture opened my eyes to other leadership styles that may work better in some contexts. Finally, marketing skills developed through real estate work had a huge impact on the quality of my consulting recommendations, project delivery and resulting client performance.
As you make a conscious effort to expand your personal perspective and apply it in all areas of your life, enjoy watching how you continue delivering higher quality results and have an even larger impact.
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