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Innovate in the Downturn – 7 Things You Must Do

Innovate in the Downturn – 7 Things You Must Do

Grasping the Sun

    Bill Gates recently said, “We are in an economic downturn but an innovation upturn.” Most people are focusing on the downturn and the dangers it poses rather than on the opportunity for innovation. Most businesses are restructuring and streamlining their operations. How can you maximize your chances in the change maelstrom? One way is to take a positive approach to change and to be seen as an innovative go-getter who will help make the re-organization a success. Here’s how:

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    1. Adopt a positive attitude.

    Like Bill Gates — see the opportunity. Don’t be cynical about change. Don’t assume the worst. Don’t believe and repeat rumors about management’s conspiracies to do down the workforce. Change is inevitable for every organization so it is time to start liking it. Change means new opportunities, new responsibilities, and new things to learn and do. People who are positive about new challenges are more likely to be given them. People who are resistant to change and reluctant to adapt are the first to be culled.

    2. Become a change agent.

    Make suggestions. Introduce ideas and recommendations. Look for ways in which your department could bring in new products, business processes or partnerships. Ask yourself — is there a better way to meet the needs of our customers? Anticipate trends and suggest ways of changing the department to exploit new opportunities and new technologies.

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    3. Listen to customers.

    Where can you find the ideas for change? One source is customers. In your dealings with clients you should make a point of asking how your product or service could be improved. What do they like and dislike about your offering? How are their business needs changing? What will they need in the future? Even better than asking them is to study how they use your product or service. What difficulties do they encounter? How could you alleviate the problems and make their life easier? Do they use your product or service in conjunction with others? Could you co-operate with another company or combine your product with others to bring an innovation to market?

    4. Watch the competition.

    Keep an eye on what they are doing and any innovations they introduce. Ask customers what other suppliers are doing that is smart and new. Study their initiatives and see what works. Suggest ways in which you cannot just match the competition but leapfrog them.

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    5. Be sensitive to office politics.

    For most ideas it is best to talk them through with colleagues in your department and in other areas to test their workability before you speak to your manager. That way you have checked out the concept, cleared some obvious objections and gained feedback before you propose it. It will sound better thought out. However, there are some ideas that are so sensitive that it would be silly to bat them around the office before proposing them. You have to choose your moments carefully. Often you can prepare the ground by describing the size of the problem and agreeing how pressing it is before you introduce your idea. Catch the boss when he or she is most receptive. Sometimes it is best to introduce your big idea outside the hurly burly of the office. If you can buttonhole the director in the pub or the car park you may have a better chance of a good hearing.

    6. Don’t insist on the glory.

    If you spark an idea and then other people adapt and improve it then that is fine. By letting go you have a better chance of it being adopted than if you insist on driving every aspect of the initiative because it “was your idea in the first place.” Sometimes the cleverest tactic is to let your boss take it over as his or her idea. People will still know that you were the one who planted the seed.

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    7. Be prepared for rejection.

    Most managers are analytical and critical. They are good at finding fault with other people’s ideas. The more radical your proposal the more likely it is that people will feel uncomfortable with it. Propose it carefully. Lay it out in a logical way and explain the benefits. But if your boss disagrees then don’t fall out over it and don’t bypass him. Let it lie fallow for a while. I once worked for a CEO who would tear new ideas to shreds and ridicule them. But the next day he would often say, “I was thinking about that idea of yours and I can see a way to make it work.” His initial reaction was to oppose an idea just to test it. But once the germ of the idea was in his head he could find ways to develop it. Above all don’t stop bringing forward ideas because the first few are rejected.

    Change means winners and losers. If you can be known as someone who is creative, innovative and a driver of change then the chances are that you will emerge a winner. Not only will you survive the change but you will be given the responsibility of making part of it a reality.

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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    Last Updated on January 27, 2021

    How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

    How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

    Knowledge is essential to become successful in life, your career, and your business. Without learning new concepts and becoming proficient in your craft, it’s difficult to excel in your chosen career or archive knowledge to pass down to the next generation. Visual learning is one way to do this, and it can be incredibly effective in helping you work better.

    Content comes in various forms, and because how we learn influences how much we know, we need to talk about learning styles. This article will focus on how to utilize visual learning to boost your career or business.

    The Importance of Knowing Your Learning Style

    Knowing your learning style enables you to process new information to the best of your ability. Not only does it reduce your learning curve, but you’re able to communicate these same concepts to others effectively.

    It all starts when you’re able to first identify the best way you learn.

    As a college student, I soon figured out that taking online courses without visual aids or having an instructor in front of me led to poor retention of concepts. Sure, I got good grades and performed excellently in my online exams. However, I discovered that I couldn’t maintain this performance level because I forgot 80 percent of the course content by the end of the semester.

    There are several types of learning styles, which exist as part of the VARK model. To give an idea of how visual learning stacks up against other learning styles, here’s a brief mention of some of the different types of learning styles we have.

    The four most popular types of learning styles are:

    • Visual learning style (learning by seeing)
    • Aural or auditory learning style (learning by listening to information spoken or presented)
    • Read/Write learning style (learning that involves reading and writing texts)
    • Tactile/Kinesthetic learning style (learning by touching and doing)

    For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on using visual learning.

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    Are You a Visual Learner?

    When it comes to boosting your career, business (or education), a visual learner is one who would most definitely choose shapes, images, symbols, or reading over auditory messages.

    This may mean you prefer to read an actual map when navigating to a new place over listening to verbal directions. It may also mean that you have trouble remembering what your manager said at the meeting because there were no graphs or illustrations to support the points raised.

    Visual Learner Infographic

      Most people who struggle with learning probably aren’t leveraging their best learning styles[1]. The earlier you identify how your learning style can boost your success, the less struggle you will encounter with processing new information throughout your career.

      However, visual learning in particular can really boost your career or business whether it is your preferred learning style or not, and here’s why:

      Several studies have arrived at the conclusion that the brain retains more information with the help of visual aids. In other words, images are directly processed by our long-term memory, which helps us store information for longer periods of time.[2]

      While some lessons can be performed orally, several concepts can only make sense if you have an image with an explanation of sequences (i.e. learning about human DNA).

      Visual learning does use a different part of the brain, and visual cues are processed by the part of the brain known as the occipital lobe.

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      By engaging more parts of the brain during learning, you’re able to have a fuller understanding of concepts and facilitate better interaction with your immediate environment.

      How to Use Visual Learning for Success

      Here are 4 ways to use visual learning to boost your career or business:

      1. Bring Back the To-Do List

      We live in an age where computers have taken over virtually every aspect of productivity and most human functions. However, written lists are making a comeback, and with an endless number of important tasks to complete, having a to-do list of tasks in order of importance can improve your productivity.

      While coming up with a list is initially challenging, adding colors and shapes to written lists that you personally write and manage gives you an extra layer of assurance and aids recall so that you actually get stuff done.

      I have tried this technique in my work as a registered nurse and discovered that adding shapes and colors to to-do lists helps me delegate tasks, recognize where more work is needed, and makes it easy to cross off completed tasks at the end of the day.

      2. Add Graphs, Charts, and Symbols to Reports

      Yes, it seems like more work for you, but graphs enable you to monitor the heartbeat of your business.

      Graphs and charts help you find trends in your finances, make a budget, and analyze data overtime. With the help of free and premium software available on the market, it has become easier to take plain data and convert it to relevant information displayed in different shapes and images in a matter of minutes.

      As an entrepreneur, you can make predictions and allocate funds wisely when you’re able to see whether your efforts are rewarded. You can use colors and charts to delegate actions to members of your team and track performance at the same time.

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      When broken down into monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual goals, graphs and charts communicate what ordinary text cannot.

      3. Effectively Brainstorm With Mind-Mapping

      With mind-mapping, you’re organizing information accurately and drawing relationships between concepts and pieces from a whole, which is a great way to tap into visual learning.

      Think of a mind map as a tree with several branches. For example, the tree can symbolize healthcare, while each branch stands for nursing, medicine, laboratory science, and so on. When you look at nursing, you can further branch out into types of nursing; pediatric, women’s health, critical care, and so on.

      It’s an interesting relationship; the more ideas you’re able to come up with for your chosen subject, the deeper you get and the stronger the association.

      Mind maps really show you relationships between subjects and topics, and simplifies processes that might seem complicated at first glance. In a way, it is like a graphical representation of facts presented in a simple, visual format.

      Mind mapping isn’t only limited to career professionals; business owners can benefit from mind mapping by organizing their online learning activities and breaking down complex tasks into simple actions so that you can accurately measure productivity.

      4. Add Video Streaming to Meetings

      What if you could double the productivity of your team members by video streaming your meetings or adding flash animation to your presentation?

      When you offer video as an alternative method of processing information to colleagues, there is a greater chance of retaining information because we recreate these stories as images in our minds.

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      For organizations that hold virtual meetings, it can also be an effective way to enhance performance as people can see their colleagues in addition to whatever form of video is provided during the meeting.

      Final Thoughts

      The question is not whether visual learning is better than the other learning styles. Each has their merits and situations where they will be most useful.

      The goal here is to supplement your existing dominant learning style with visual learning so that you can experience a significant boost in how you process and use everyday information.

      You might discover that understanding scientific concepts is much easier after incorporating visual learning or that you’re able to understand your organization’s value when projected on a visual screen with charts and graphs.

      The overall goal is to always be learning and to continue to leverage visual learning style in your career and business.

      More About Learning Styles

      Featured photo credit: You X Ventures via unsplash.com

      Reference

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