I recognize that you may not feel like you’re in the position to innovate where you work. You’ve got incredible ideas on new things to bring to the customer experience, you’ve asked a million questions to try to nudge your leadership toward innovation, you’ve done just about all you’re allowed to do to give something new a shot. But at the end of the day, you simply don’t have the power to execute the new things you’ve dreamed up at work. It may not be your job, your leadership may not be interested, and you may not be able to make it happen on your own. For a lot of you, I know that innovation feels like an impossible task to take on at work.
But let me encourage you with this thought: Everybody has the opportunity to innovate. You may not be the one who can implement the big major changes or new sweeping standards that help your company innovate from the top down, but each one of us has the potential to make our workplaces better, one small innovation at a time.
The last time I was at Disney with my family, my daughter and I were riding one of our favorite rides when something unexpected happened: We hit a bump. We’d been on this ride enough times in the past to know that this wasn’t supposed to happen. The ride was usually smooth sailing, so we were surprised to be suddenly jostled on the track. There was obviously a glitch that needed to be taken care of, and clearly, the employee operating the ride knew it. When he saw it happen, I heard his frustrated mumble.
“I wish they would fix that,” he sighed.
This obviously wasn’t the first time riders hit that bump in the road. This employee’s frustration was clear enough for me to know he’d seen this glitch happen before, and that meant there was something he could’ve done to change it.
Am I suggesting this guy should’ve gotten his engineering license, taken apart the ride, and built a brand new one with no glitch in sight? Obviously not! That would be insane! But what I am suggesting is that he had the power to bring the glitch to light for his company so that somebody with the power and authority could’ve made it better.
Maybe he never spoke up and watched it go bumping past him each day without a word. But I doubt it. Based on his reaction, I imagine he told his boss, and it hadn’t been fixed yet. I wish I could’ve gotten off the ride to ask him as soon as I heard his frustrated mumble. Either way I know that this employee may not have had the direct power to fix the problem, but he was the only one on the frontlines to see it. Without him or a vocal customer, nobody would know there was even an issue. Nobody would be pushed to innovate and solve it if this guy didn’t take responsibility to bring it to light.
The same is true for us! You may be dealing with glitches at your job right now. You may be the one seeing the bumps and shakes in your customer experience up close. While you may not be the one in the seat to solve the problem, you are the one in the seat to speak up. You’re the one with the potential to be the catalyst for innovation that makes your customer experience better in new ways.
I know this is true because I’ve seen it over and over again. Frontline workers like you are the reason for so many innovations that have changed the customer experience for the better!
It was a barista working the register at a local Starbucks who came up with the idea to write customers’ names on their cups.
It was a janitor working behind the scenes at Frito Lay who raised the suggestion for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos–a flavor born specifically from his Latin roots–to the owner.
It was a team of Amazon employees who formulated Prime, an exclusive membership to give customers the convenience of two-day shipping.
It was a regional manager at a local McDonalds who came up with the Happy Meal.
And that’s just to name a few! My point is this: Everybody can innovate. Everybody has the potential to see glitches. And everybody has the choice to find the courage to speak up about them when they come. Everybody has the opportunity to bring something new—something better—to the conversation.
For my Audible friends, check out the recent release ofThe Power of Customer Experience on Audible!