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What’s the big idea? And why is it always about things. Products, processes, productivity. Innovate. Innovate. Innovate. Well… What happened to people?!!!

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It’s all been said.

Transactional Analysis. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Porter Lawler Expectancy Theory. Freudian Analysis. Ego, Id and Super-ego. Herzberg. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Taylorism. Theory X/Y. Type A/B personalities. Name the theory, it’s more than proven.

People, we know everything there is to know about them, right?


Here we go. Pause. Think of the slogan. You know, the people slogan… You know your company, you know the slogan. But let’s choose the most over-used, out-dated, onerous piece of linguistics ever introduced to the business lexicon…

People are our greatest asset

Hang on a second… We’re just taking a breath… One moment…

OK. Normal service is resumed. Sorry about that, it’s just… Well, you know how peanut allergies seem to have become all the rage, how lactose intolerance is oh so de rigeur? Well, we have significant allergies to that slogan we just shared. Even scanning up the page, this badconsultant can feel his tongue swelling.

It’s not the words – who could argue with the sentence itself? – it’s more that the executives who run it out with almost metronomic regularity just seem to act in the complete opposite way. And yet, at the same time, those executives are throwing cash out of the door

[to our consulting bretheren the world over]

to gain whatever twist of innovation they can into product line, process re-engineering, productivity enablers. Which is great.

Except that it isn’t the things that are the asset.

It’s the people that make, develop and use those assets.

Your greatest asset is a barren wasteland of innovation.

Thanks to our exhaustive, cross-referential, normalized, longitudinal study of many moderate-to-best practice organizations, we have come to a simple truth.

When it comes to people… Executives think they have all the answers.

Because they know people so well.

Only they don’t, do they… Otherwise, they would take all the money they

[throw, donate, burn]

invest in badconsultants like us and spend it on pursuing the most powerful innovation of all… People innovation.

Here’s the basics (and trust us, we will return to this subject time and time and time again):

1) Who is your ideal employee?
2) What proportion of your workforce could be classed as your ideal employee?
3) How do you increase that proportion?

Some clues:
1) Increasingly productive employees who feel fantastic is pretty close
2) It’ll be less than 20% if the idea of people innovation is new to you
3) Ask them

It really is as simple as that.

And, when we come back, we’ll be telling you more of the secrets of innovation when it’s not applied to things but to the most valuable asset you have.