Innovation Nation
Innovation Nation

Episode · 1 week ago

How To Navigate Change With Innovation & Keeping Communications Human w/ Bruce Tulgan


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the world saw the beginning of big changes in regards to tech and work norms. Now, having the whole transition expedited, leaders everywhere are dealing with the aftermath. And if they want to maintain those high-level employees, they’ll need to know how to navigate through the change.

In this episode of Innovation Nation, I interview Bruce Tulgan, Founder and CEO of Rainmaker Thinking, about setting manager expectations, the technological transformation, and how to innovate when the stakes are high.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Innovations that every manager should be focusing on
  • How to keep communications & interactions more human
  • Finding innovation through troubling situations
  • Bridging the soft skills gap

Tune in on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Innovation is all around us, in fact,everyone innovates often undenoted to themselves many mistakenly assume thatinnovation is either a big capital project, a figurative bolt of lightningthat brings inspiration or the province of some exceptionally gifted person.This is the myth of innovation, but you can innovate as well. You are listeningto innovation, nation, the podcast, where top executives and industryexperts are sharing their insights on harnessing the power of innovation,we're here to help you stay ahead of the curve by driving your owninnovation. There's your host Jasmine Marty, Rosen Hi, welcome to another episode ofInnovation Nation. This is your host Jasmine marches on and our guest todayis Bruce Tagen, who has moved from his legal career to the successful careerof a consultant and thought leader. His company does a lot of consulting onhuman capital management and he's an author of over twenty books and growingwelcome Bruse. Thank you so much for having me it's. It's an honor and apleasure to be with you. So brucey talk a lot about the changes and trends inthe market place where it comes to winning the talent war. On how tomanage people a chain of command leadership, what innovations can youthink about in the area that you know every man during this day and ageshould focus on? Well, I mean look, there's so many things going on rightnow. One thing is over the last eighteen months: everything's changed awhole bunch of people. Are, you know realizing Mah? Maybe it doesn't matterwhere I work and when I work right and a lot of their bosses who were like?Well, no, you know you're somebody who got you've got to work in the officeare like. We no see turns out. I don't so that's probably the biggest. I meanlook, you know this is one of these story. Transformational changes. What'swhat's really I mean for me. What's always in the back of my head? Is thatlong before the pandemic, or or and up to immediately before the pandemic,everything was changing already. It just said. You know, then this hugeaccident of history intervened. So there's all I mean look. Globalizationand technology have been shaping change for about thirteen thousand years, butit's really picking up speed in the last decade, so I would say what thepandemic did is kind of magnify everything and it's Portat. It's likeit's everything's on steroids right. The world was digital before thePandani gets nothing new. There was a lot of a I already. It's nothing new,it's just magnify at certain trends and made it more obvious to others yeah. Ithink that's true. I mean I think, like what I've been telling clients is. Wejust had fifteen years of change in in eighteen months. Exactly so. What arepeople to look at, especially in this kind of rapid wimpet space of changethat was brought on by the pandemic and people's kind of self insides arechanging? How are managers and organizations to respond to staycompetitive than to innovate along with that change? Well, you know what Ialways look at is the more things change you know. What can you anchoryourself to? That's not going to change, so you know I think in this look Istart out studying young people in the workplace. You know I'm always goinginto organizations that are restructuring and re engineering. Youknow, organizations that are trying to push power down the chain of commandand drive colbertie across functions. So you know technology is you know,institutions are in a state of constant flocks and the information tidewayimmediacy everything is, is changing. What I always do is tell leaders hey,remember these are still human beings and we're not that different from whenwe were running around in hunting bands chasing after gazelles and Wilde,beasts and the human element, it we're still human beings, and if you want tomake your way through change, you got... anchor yourself to the things thataren't going to change, and so what I'm always looking at is how are peoplesupporting each other guiding each other directing each other and andprimarily how people communicate, because in this environment, I thinkthe thing that's in jeopardy is keeping communications and interactions human.Absolutely so do you have any tips on that specifically how people shouldfeel about keeping the concaten and interactions more human yeah? I thinkyou know so so the way everybody is wired if it were or wireless to be moreprecise. Is You know that the way we communicate right now, okay, is wetouch face with each other? Then we say hey. Let me know if you need me, so weinterrupt each other all day long and then we're on electronic communication,and then we have an organized huddle, a meeting right and then what happens?When do we have the most mean communications when things go wrong andpeople are frustrated right, everything's going wrong, then we rollup our sleeves drill down and have high structure high substance communication,and so what I'm always urging is okay, if you're going to have these teamhuddles, they can't be a gesture and it's not like you're having a meetingfor the sake of having a meeting. So so I'm all about to take a walk or be Dany,your vegetables right to look at. Why are you having right what you got to doyour pushups right, you got to you got to stay strong, so so why are youhaving a team, huddle and WHO's running? Those and how are they being done andmore to the point, look at your one on one communication dynamics stoptouching base and interrupting each other interruption is profoundlyinefficient, communicating only when things are going wrong. You know,there's very famous for stranger WHO's. A bear talking bear, I'm sure you Ilove to. I love telling people outside this country about him. All we have atalking bear was a very famous for stranger that be like, and so you knowOh yeah and then Americans be like no, that's really true, but you knowsmoking the Baris famous for sing. It's a whole lot easier to prevent a firethan it is to put one out, and so you know I think the way people arecommunicating is you know, they're touching base and interrupting eachother and everything Staccato and then fire fighting and what I'm alwaystrying to tell people as slow down and communicate. Clearly high structure,high substance, one on one's spell out expectations, make sure you payattention to what you're asking of each other. Much of what we say to eachother at work is about asking each other for help so slow down and tuneinto the ask. What help is somebody asking you for and then make sure youknow yeah e e? No, don't yes! As a shashes people slow down, make sure youcan do it make sure you're allowed to do it, and- and you are not ready tosay yes to someone until you know exactly what you're going to do exactlywhen you're going to do it exactly how you're going to do when you're going todeliver right so structure, and so what I tell people is slow down andcommunicate plan and every step of the way plan plan look around the cornertogether. So what that looks like is every day who are your primary peoplewho are relying on you, who are the primary people upon whom you're relyingwhen was you last one on one when you next one of and the other thing Ialways tell people, is who your most prolific interruptors? You know who'sGoin to interrupt you this week m. You won't you schedule one on one with eachof those people early in the week and maybe touch face at the end of the weekto and then ask yourself to be honest with you Sol. Who Do you interrupt themost? So one of the things I do is I try to go right at the core of who arewe touching based with and who are we interrupting and just dive down deeperand put more structure and substance into those conversations. You know it'sa very apt observation right. The language speaks for itself. If thephrase touching base is so pervasive,...

...but when you think about you're soright, it's like very quick and not substantive yea. So so so so ourresearch shows what the three most common questions people ask each otherhow's your thing on do just find everything a track. Any problems Ishould know, but I think it's under control. Those are the three mostcommon questions. People ask how's everything going is everything on track?Are there any problems I should know about, and each of those is aninvitation to wrap up the conversation quickly and then you say hey later onwhen I'm in the middle of something really important at the leastconvenient time possible. Could you please interrupt me right? That's howpeople communicate, but I didn't published articles on communicationwhere you know when people ask somebody how's it going and some hic is finethey're not expecting an answer. I mean a an I'm just going through the Nisias,but exactly it's an invitation to wrap it up and if you're the boss, thenyou're telling yourself oh be pat on the back. I just talked to that person.Not really no, and it's amazing when somebody starts telling them how theyreally are feeling very often people become fidgety, because that was not areal question intended with you know to get a relanded yeah. I always tellpeople so sometimes managers will be like wait. A MINUTE HM This guy mightbe yon is something what should I ask, and I say, Hey tell me what you didtell me, how you did it show me hey: what are you planning to do what yourplan, what steps you going to follow? He tell me your plan. What are yourpriority say? What do you? What are the things you might not get to right? Whatwhat? What are the things you're going to have a hard time with? What's goingto get in your way today right, you know you got to drill down, andsometimes you you're so right. Our communications are still fleeting thatpeople will not even be expecting to speak up and share what they reallythinking. I, since when I have whenever I have knew direct reports and I dowant, I was they'll- come and a quiet I'm like this is your time. I want tohear from you. What are your thoughts? What could we do differently? Whatcould we do better n? It yeah- and I think the you know one of the things wedo is we train managers how to make better use of that time and all atyour time you do the talking, but our advice is number one. You got to havethese conversations more often right number. Two. You got to get your directreports preparing in advance and writing. I got studying for the testright, so so we're not going to just come in and talk you. I want you totell me what decisions do you need made? What problems are you anticipating?What resources do you need help with show me your plan right show me yourwork in progress right, so so so that they come in with a written agenda.They set the table, they come in, prepared, let them own tis absolutelyand that sense of ownership is so important in driving change. I mean wetalk in sometimes vacuus turns about the culture of the culture. Is this orculturally would do that, but we are all part of the culture likeindividually. All of us can shape it individually. All of us can make adifference. So kind of taking a passive approach- Tan is the culture doesn'tget us too far or accomplish too much culture is either by default or bydesign, and every single person needs to situate themselves in context andmake choices about the role they are going to play and the contributionthey're going to make and what I always tell people is. You know if things arechanging and you want to be part of that change, step on anchor yourself.What's not going to change, use the tools that make you and your colleagueshuman and know, what's not going to change okay, then you can navigatethrough change same with innovation, by the way that it's you know, you're, notJackson, public right, you know in a real innovation. Is iterative. Sowhat's what do we know right now? Are...

...the best practices right? What do weknow or the boundaries here? What's not up to you right and then you're free tobe creative? Well, you know what Jackson Pollack did not si like. Wouldwe think of Jackson Colic today right he has early work so actually quiteconventional and traditional. He had to involve, and if you look at all theartists in the history of art that have been like ground waiting, you have tolook at the genesis of their work in the evolution and they all start mostoften very traditionally and then evolved. It's true of Pacas, also andeven Jackson. pollock at his latest stage work. I always say you know hewasn't splattering pain all over the room. He was at least he knew where thecanvas walks and saying, if you have direct reports in what you want is forthem to innovate. You got to give him the CAN Dat. You got to tell him.What's not up to them, you got to at least give them parameters. It is nogift to somebody to say going to room and be creative, going to room aninnovate right. It's all this stuff isn't up to you now go. How can youdeal with driving abiding sense of perfectionism that so many people haveor suffer from and that gets in the way of their performance? I mean look ifyou fly in a plane, you want a very low errori if you're, if you're, if you're doingbrain surgery very low area, if you're running a nuclear weapons, research,laboratory or a nuclear weapons launch site, you want a very low air rate bythe way we've worked with organizations and all those industries and it's true,it's a different kind of quality standard, but I always tell people inyour day to day efforts. You know again, look at where you are no fail. Zoneneeds to be, and then don't fall victim to the myth of one hundred percentright. I caught the myth of one hundred percent because I think the differencebetween ninety eight percent, a hundred percent for most work, is quite youknow, a matter of judgment, it's subjective and and and there's so muchpeople get done to a ninety eight percent threshold and then that lasttwo percent is sort of the zone of failure, fobs andprocrastinators. Now again, unless you find a plane or run a nuclear weaponson to site or nuclear weapons lab or doing brain surgery, you know usuallyninety eight percent, that's pretty good, you know, and what you think isninety eight percent. Somebody else might think is a hundred and elevenpercent. You know you touched on the, so it fear of failure, and I am withyou if I'm on a plane. I definitely want that captain going down his checkles right, but that's not innovation, that's actually needing the basicrequirements, and you don't want the pilot kind of turning the plane upsidedown in the name of innovation. That kind of misses the point exactly it's avery kind of straight trajectory want to go from a to be bringing peoplesafely in no home or wherever they're going or if he, as you use the exampleof a surgeon. They definitely need to count the tools they have, so they donot leave something accidentally in a body which is very easy to occur whenyou want those checks and balances right to the B and that's not in thename of innovation. That's in the name of basic meeting basic requirments:Well, but where does innovation have right when a pilot gets into a pickleand the pilot has to extrapolate from standard operating procedures and bestpractices in order to get out of a pickle when a brain surgeon gets into apickle yeah and they have to and they have to extrapolate from their standardoperating procedures, their best practices and their training? That'struth! Soldiers, that's true anymore, at where innovation almost always comesfrom is extrapolating from best practices at least iterative innovation.Now I'm not saying that people don't...

...wake up in the middle of the nightwithin epiphany and a light bulb is hanging over their head in their mind,and so oh wow, we're gonna. You know I got an idea, forget taxies we're goingto create ober or whatever you know where you know it's going to be. Youknow a fudge ripple ice cream. I got it. You know, but but but most realinnovation comes from people running into trouble and getting out of trouble,and the best way to get out of trouble is to iterate and extrapolate from whatyou already know or best practices. Well, the you're hitting on a veryimportant issues, is looking at everything kind of in a Kisan approach,saying what can I do better? How can I do this better and constantly kind ofbuilding on that one at a time, and that makes a huge difference, I meanChelsea Sollenberger. He went against every FA and procedure and AgainstCommand from the tower when he pulled off the miracle on the Hudson, but hehad interpreted thinking and each time he had been over the years over hiscareer he'd been thinking. What else can I do better and he had integratedthat and he was able to pull that off in that drastic moment and save so manylives? Exactly I mean that's. That is exactly I mean that's what in the realworld right that I mean look, look over the history of the last thirteenthousand years of human technology. How does technology happen? How doinnovations really happen? So I think you know one of th things that amusesme greatly is when we watch people in environments that are meant to beinnovation, environments, let's say laboratories, and you know it's sointeresting to interview those folks- and you know you put them in a room-innovate be creative, you know and then they're all like a you know. It'sthat's that's not really how it works. That's really important both so one ofyour first books focused on Jn manager, Genis and now jen x, e, pretty much inpositions of power, singing leadership roles, many of them and the lanes arecoming up and the lanes are turning forty. So you know they're, not theGenzo. Today. What trans or changes are you seeing inthe market place that you know unnotable from your early widing thatyou would dispense today? Yeah I mean look so what's the same, you know whenJen exors were coming into the workplace. It was like they're disloyal.They have short attention span. They don't want to work as hard. They demandimmediate gratification. They want everything their own way and they wantit right now. Like Hmm, you know, there's a long range term of art weused to describe that phenomenon. We call it kids today right and there youknow some. Some of that is just about being the latest young upstarts. Butbut look you know there is a transformation going on here.Institutions are in a state of constant flocks, so there's nothing grown upabout hitching your wagon of the star man established organization. Pay Yourdues climb. The ladder do as you're told wait for the system to take careof you. That's very risky behavior now yeah right like like so so you knowthey look at young people, oh they're, just well they're, not disloyal they'replugged into the reality of uncertainty and in an uncertain environment. Longterm hierarchical thinking doesn't make sense in in an uncertain environmentshort term. Transactional thinking is what makes sense right, they're saying:Oh well, they're all free agents, every single one of them thinks they're inbusiness for themselves. Well, WELCOME TO AMERICA! You know self reliance isas old as the hills. That's what made this country great see, Emerson. Youknow the information title way now. That is a historical, that's, a transformation of historicalsignificance right. The speed of of technology immediacy is the only realtime the information tid awave, but...

...even that so it used to be. You knowyou had to figure out how to get your hands on good information. Now. Thebiggest thing you have to do is figure out how to get your hands on goodinformation. No, now we're drowning in nonsense andand- and you know, two pus- Two ekals five- that is the last sentence ofGeorge Orwell, one thousand nine hundred and eighty four four two plustwo equals five and we now live in a world where a whole bunch of people arecredibly, arguing that two plus two equals five and a whole bunch of peopleare like you know. Maybe it does and they have a platform. Now right,everybody can be a published today right and it's very confusing. Oh look.My expert says two plus two EPOS five well you're experts to Moran Yeah Right. So so I think that you knowpeople are operating an information title wave. The pace of change isaccelerating uncertainty is, is tremendous. I think today's Gen Zer'sright. You know people say well, oh well, where do they get this attitudewhere they get this attitude? They're living in an environment of danger of environmental collapse, adanger of terrorism, danger of war danger of economic crisis? You knowthey're, like children in H s but by the children in H s. If children in H Slearned how to think, learn and communicate while attached to ahandheld super computer and were raised by helicopter parents on steroids, know the they're like a see new species,and- and you know, because we're living through this profound change in historyand by the way you know most people, most older, more experienced people,look at younger people and say well: they'll grow up and settle down right,but every so often in history. That doesn't happen every so often inhistory. What happens? Is the younger people don't get more and more like theolder people? The older people get more and more like the younger people, and Ithink this is one of those times we are living through. So so much is the same.You know, but but but we are living through real transformational time andluck. You know, things like you know. Is American democracy going to continue.Like that's a big question, nobody would ask that thirty years ago or twinhours or seven years ago, yeah, so that it's very interesting to see how we seedifferent questions coming on the scene that before would not even be asked orquestion. You said something very important. He said being able to discern the informationto me it's one of the marks of being educated and surviving well today,knowing the difference, what education is porrect or not, but absolutely andI'll tell you something. So one of my books is called bridging the softskills gap and one of the things that people are worried about is criticalthinking right so on the things we did is unpacked. What is critical thinkreally, and the first part is: You have to have a foundation of basic facts andlogic, and you know oh we're going to teach people to think critically. Well,don't they need to know some stuff first, so they have something to thinkabout. If they don't know some facts, whatwill they be thinking about? You know so so so, first, you have to know abunch of facts and logic, rules of logic, right and and and so that'sfoundational learning and then a second thing: Oh tobe solving. Well, no mostproblems have been encountered already and solved right. So most problemsolving is learning repeatable solutions right and it turns outdecision making is just this one small piece when you come up against problemsof first impression and and and and so I think that you know when people aresaying how do we get people to that information? Oh well, that's a goodsource right where that's not a good source. Okay, that's a good start, butyou also need to be able to recognize nonsense. Absolutely any key questions.If you wish I'd asked or- and I did not...

Bruce- I mean you know, how can people hireRatak thinking? Where do we get your books? Tell us about your wife's newbook at my Wife's new book is called Madam, the biography of polly Adlericon of the Jazz Age, and it just got a great review in the New York Times, andyou know we're holding up hold on to your hat, wait way through the movie.That's congratulations! I'm happy to here, and I know ray make makersthinking, that's a great job, advising organizations on how to improve theirtalent, management and approaches, and you know, you're a very inspirationalpublic speaker. I've heard you before and you know the audience was inraptured and thank you so much for taking the time to join our podcast. Ohthat's so kind of you! Thank you. So much you've done this before you're good atthis. So what you made it so easy and you made it so much fun. Thank thankyou. So much again, this was another EP sode of Innovation Ation. This is yourhost Jazzman mates. Thanks for joining us, like you've, been listening to innovationnation for more subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast player,or connect with the son linked in thanks for listening. I.

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