Did you see it? Did you watch Elon Musk’s team launch the Falcon Heavy rocket into space? The most powerful rocket ever conceived, designed and engineered, built, and successfully launched? The implications and possibilities of this step, of this achievement are as Jack Welch said, “boundaryless.”
What “Kick Ass Projects” Mean to Employees
What what struck me with equal awe (although the launch was hard to beat) were the hand prints of the employees of Space X that were on every part of this success. All of the rockets and tests leading up to this, Falcon Heavy’s promotional video released prior to the launch, and the room at Mission Control full of raving employees screaming and shouting at each step of the test. If you don’t believe me, watch the first 30 seconds of the video to hear the employees in the room go crazy.
What are your business’ “next steps” that have your employees acting like this? I know we’re not talking about launching rockets into space, but what are the advances, the innovations, the next ways to win for your company that your employees are working on?
What projects are on your plan? What teams will you form and which of your brightest and most enthusiastic employees will lead? What will give them purpose for coming to work, to giving you their brains as well as their hands?
The projects can be as modest as squeezing out another 5% in efficiency in a process or as bold as introducing a totally new service or product that takes share from your competitor. They can be back office projects or front line initiatives. They can be internal or external.
Change and continuous improvement is mandatory to remain relevant, positioned right, and profitable.
And positioned correctly, this change and continuous improvement can be just what you need to harness the best from people, to attract the best talent, and to retain that talent with rewarding and satisfying work. The drudgery of doing the same work year in and year out is fatiguing not to mention risky unless you are at the top 5% of those doing it.
Consider the series of developments, wins, and breakthroughs from the following companies:
- DuPont’s product introductions of cellophane, nylon, Tyvek and many more innovations. The teams there must be continuously working on “what’s next?”
- Amazon’s Prime Delivery service, Echo Alexa, Amazon Web Services, and Whole Foods now offering premiere grocery home delivery.
- Builder’s First Source’s manufacturing of windows to self-supply and compete and BMC’s READY-FRAME precision-cut framing for home builders.
- Starbucks’ coffee, then tea and frozen drinks, Starbuck’s Rewards card, and beer & wine (even though the latter ended up not working–they tried something bold and new).
So you don’t need to launch a red Tesla Roadster to Mars. But keep the new projects and improvements coming. Naturally for your board, but just as importantly to keep your employees engaged, satisfied, and always striving for more.