Welcome to the new year! It’s times like these when everyone – individuals and businesses alike – are making resolutions and goals to change things for the better in the upcoming year. In a culture of change and “big ideas,” in an industry of creatives, we all want to be revolutionary. In his new book Practically Radical, Fast Company cofounder William C. Taylor has outlined ten questions to reflect on for those in the mood to “shake things up” (excerpts below, via Fast Company).
1. Do you see opportunities the competition doesn’t see?
IDEO’s Tom Kelly likes to quote French novelist Marcel Proust, who famously said, “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.”
2. Do you have new ideas about where to look for new ideas?
Ideas and practices that are routine in one industry can be revolutionary when they migrate to another industry, especially when they challenge the prevailing assumptions and conventional wisdom that have come to define so many industries. What better way to fuel your imagination that to look for inspiration beyond your field?
3. Are you the most of anything?
In an age of overcapacity, oversupply, and utter sensory overload, it’s not good enough to be “pretty good” at everything. You have to be the most of something: the most affordable, the most accessible, the most elegant, the most colorful, the most transparent.
4. If your company went out of business tomorrow, who would miss you and why?
Why might a company be missed? Because its products and services are so distinctive, its culture is so unique, or it mission so compelling. Precious few organizations meet any of these criteria, which may be why so many companies feel like they’re on the verge of going out of business.
5. Have you figured out how your organization’s history can help to shape its future?
The essence of creativity, [psychologist Jerome Bruner] argues, is “figuring out how to use what you already know in order to go beyond what you already think.”
6. Do you have customers who can’t live without you?
One of the make-or-break challenges for any organization is to become irreplaceable in the eyes of its customers. That’s why it’s not enough to satisfy customers rationally. You have to engage them emotionally, to conduct yourself in ways that are unusual and unforgettable.
7. Do your people care more than the competition?
Success is not just about thinking harder than the competition. It is also, and perhaps more importantly, about caring more than the competition–about customers, about colleagues, about how the organization conducts itself in a world with endless opportunities to cut corners and compromise on values.
8. Are you getting the best contributions from the most people?
These days, the most powerful contributions come from the most unexpected places–the hidden genius inside your company, the quiet genius of colleagues who are easy to overlook, the collective genius of customers, suppliers, and other smart people who surround your company.
9. Are you consistent in your commitment to change?
Jim Collins puts it this way: “The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change. The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.”
10. Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?
In a world that never stops changing, great leaders can never stop learning. How do you push yourself to keep growing and evolving–so your company can do the same?
Here’s to a brand new year, one just waiting to be filled with brand new ideas and brand new successes. So get out there and make a change.