“On … his first day, [Stephen] Elop [new CEO of struggling Nokia] sent an e-mail to every employee asking what they thought he should change, what should be left alone,and what they feared he wouldn’t understand.” Bloomberg Businessweek, “Elop’s Fable,” June 6th, 2011.
I love it. I don’t know how many new leaders I’ve seen come charging in and start changing things without understanding their new organization. Understanding means knowing what is working, what is not working, and what is possible. Often there appears to be a hubris: I’m the new guy so I’m all knowing and powerful, which results in destruction of a lot of good things going on in the organization (see for example how to avoid crushing your pockets of excellence).
Elop reportedly answered every one of the roughly 2000 responses he received. I worked with one CEO who successfully did this same kind of thing (and in the same industry that Elop is now in). It is a great technique that helps the new leader quickly baseline themselves with what is good and bad as well as encouraging folks at all levels to share their ideas. (See how old e-mail can be a great project management tool.)
I’m personally convinced that any organization that did no more than listen to and act on the ideas of their employees would certainly continue to be in business. That’s a great project management tool that we all have at our fingertips, right now.
How do you keep up on the good ideas and activities that are going on in your organization?