Re-Gain Your Innovative Edge with Next Practices

A new way to move beyond the “status quo” of global workforce management

Scott Hamilton, President & CEO
Executive Next Practices Institute •
In a turbulent global economy, characterized by uncertainty and disruption, business leaders are forced to re-examine their workforce strategies in light of both short and long term survival.

 Many C-level executives will turn to best practices—competitive benchmarking techniques that sometimes been proven to produce reliable results.

 While best practices may serve companies well during times of incremental change, their reliability is questionable in times of rapid and disruptive (think Instagram) business shifts.

 Finally, legacy behaviors, long institutionalized policies, and comfort with the “status quo” contribute barriers to innovation.

At the Executive Next Practices Institute, we urge leaders to leave best practices behind and move forward by developing next practices.

What are next practices?
Next practices are defined as processes, ideas and structure that can fundamentally change the way your organization operates and behaves. A true next practice increases both your internal capability to execute and creates extraordinary value (Potential ROI of 5% to 50%). It may be as targeted as a change in a particular process such as on-boarding to larger market changing implications (think Netflix vs. Blockbuster).

Creating Next Practices
Step One: Craft a Winning Vision
The first step in creating next practices is developing a compelling vision for your organization. Your vision should be “embraceable”, that is, it can be shared among your entire team and articulates goal(s) that everyone will feel passionate about. Apple leader and visionary Steve Jobs excelled in this area. Jobs set a clear vision for the organization and then aligned Apple against the competition, establishing an even higher and more differentiated goal. Don’t be afraid to create a radical, challenging and bold vision for your team that will take them to the next level.

Step Two: Define the Change in Your Space
Market stagnation, technology advancements and demographic shifts open the way for the creation of a next practice. Define the nature of the change and how it might impact your value proposition, profitability, target market, workforce, etc. Map overall industry trends and look at early indicators of both overt and covert change. Red Digital (High Definition movie cameras) is dramatically changing the way movies are made- who is the “Red” in your industry?

Step Three: Define Resources
How will a next practice affect the organization’s policies, processes and procedures? Take into account the full scope of the new or re-aligned resources you will need to make it happen. These elements include people, infrastructure and capital. General Electric has always been a leader in re-aligning resources to capitalize on market opportunities.

Step Four: Prioritize
Key factors can help determine which next practices should be implemented first. Determine their importance by examining business impact, urgency, relevance and contribution to profitability, among other things.

Step Five: Organize Cross-Functional Teams
Next practices innovation is best achieved in a workplace that supports both individual and team creativity. Next practices are also best achieved across functional lines in the organization (think Bell Labs). Single function teams tend to acquire “tunnel vision” and myopic to larger organizational issues or implications.

Step Six: Develop Next Practices
Basic selection criteria should guide next practices development. Does it enhance your decision making? Streamline a bureaucratic process? Create enhanced value proposition? Finally, track the ROI – anywhere from 5 to 50 percent is an indicator of a true breakthrough.

By developing next practices, you’ll put your organization on the leading edge, engage employees, increase your value proposition and remain ahead of the competition.

Copyright © Scott Hamilton 2012. All Rights Reserved.

About Scott Hamilton:
Hamilton is the President & CEO of the Executive Next Practices Institute and Founder of Nextworks™, a thought leader and research organization in which top leaders examine emerging trends and formulate new strategies to move them “beyond the status quo” ( 888.857.9722).