One of the hardest things to do in our over-busy work environments is to get people to slow down for a moment and think about what they've learned. Thanks go to Jonathan Vehar, Senior Partner with New and Improved for sharing a story about how one CEO stimulated that type of contemplation.
In a Wall Street Journal article by Gwendolyn Bounds, Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40, who has doubled that venerable campany's sales since taking over in 1997, talks about one method he used to get people to reflect on their learnings. He says: "A learning moment is a positive or negative outcome of any situation. But what it really is, is a culture where people are applauded and rewarded for sharing what works and what doesn't work. It's a freedom culture. It is one that takes away fear. I ran a 12-month program where every month I had people email me and share their learning moments. They would all get prizes and in the end we sent one of our employees on a fully paid trip around the world. The first month there were a few emails. Then as they saw they weren't being punished for this.more came. I have a sign on my door that says, 'Intellectual Collision Zone.' I have another sign on my door that says, 'Blame-Free Zone."
Ridge also talks about one of his approaches to innovation. After deciding that they wanted to focus on products related to "squeaks, smells and dirt" he states, "We then formed a team called Team Tomorrow, which focused only on revenues of the future. Team Tomorrow has a goal of being able to generate $100 million worth of annual revenue from products developed and launched in the previous three-year period. We are doing $35 million now from zero dollars in 2002."