Who Has More Innovative Ideas Than You Do? Your Employees

You’ve got to give people at all level of your organization the opportunity to find solutions to problems. You’ve got to mobilize everyone to generate improvement strategies, not just the people at the top. A court that depends solely on its senior management to address its challenges risks failure.

That is the advice of Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow and Marty Linsky give to managers and leaders in their article “Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis” in a recent issue of Harvard Business Review. The three are partners of Cambridge Leadership Associates and authors of The Practice of Adaptive Leadership (Harvard Business Press, 2009).

Their advice for adaptive leadership is reason enough to give all court employees all of the court's performance data on demand, whenever they need it, in real time -- not just once a year or once a month. But there’s an even more compelling reason that should strike at the heart managers who aspire to leadership: You don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. Never did and never will.

The mistaken belief that top management or the consultants it hires have a monopoly on bright ideas, especially in a top-down command-and-control organizational structure replete with silos and communication stovepipes, creates a handicapping condition for courts that will prevent them from reaching excellence. “Companies that have successfully made innovation part of regular continuing strategy did so by harnessing the creative energies and insights of their employees across functions and ranks," write JC Spender, a visiting professor at ESADE in Barcelona, and Bruce Strong, a founding partner at CBridge Partners, in an August 23, 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal.

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