Innovation – 24 Hours of Undiluted Autonomy 

by Onyeka Nchege on May 18, 2016

Workplace Innovation concept on the gearwheelsWe often find ourselves saying, “If only I had the time, I’d fix this!” Though we create work-arounds for those items, or find ways to cope, we rarely take the time to implement true solutions to drive long-term change. This isn’t always as simple as it seems, but it’s important for any successful team to focus less on talking about problems, and more on thinking about and implementing solutions. Can this be done in the midst of everything competing for that precious commodity called time? What if we paused for 24 hours and attended to the neglected? What could we accomplish?

True leaders know the key to success is to empower those around them. As leaders, it is our job to help team members find their voices, identify opportunities for growth and build the confidence for them to change. Recently, our team took time out of the traditional workday and joined together to find solutions for the things that cost us time. We called it the IT@IB Innovation Day (One Day of Undiluted Autonomy). In order to make the most of this opportunity for change, we chose to execute our plan in the following phases:

Phase I: Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.  First, we looked at our daily work routines and individually identified one thing that – if eliminated, solved or shortened – would improve our daily productivity and efficiency levels. There were no boundaries, just a collaborative environment encouraging the free flow of information. It didn’t take long for the more than 70 IT@IB team members to build a list of 20-30 items, and once we had that list, we were ready to focus our efforts on the task at hand, finding solutions.

Phase II: If opportunity doesn’t knock, go build a door. At Innovation Day, those same team members got the necessary people together in smaller groups to brainstorm solutions for the areas of improvement they recently identified. Then, those groups worked collaboratively on how to develop and implement those solutions into their workdays. 

Phase III: Actions speak louder than words.  In the workplace, plans are only as strong as the resources used to carry them through, and following Innovation Day, teams presented their innovations to the leadership team. Of the 20 or so ideas presented, several of them have already been implemented. One of those ideas, for example, came from two team members who were tasked with tracking down errors in URLs from customers. It was a tedious, manual task that took tremendous amounts of time. On Innovation Day, the team came up with an automated process to manage this task, and as a result, each team member re-gained roughly 5-10 hours of previously occupied time for the month.

The inaugural IT@IB Innovation Day was so impactful that – at the request of our team – we’ve already scheduled another one for July. Where there’s value, there’s opportunity, and our team walked away from this experience feeling refreshed and inspired to continue to drive change. Empowering your team members to implement solutions welcomes a culture that is as collaborative as it is productive, and doing so will not only improve your daily routine, but also the routines of those around you. Great leaders lead by example, and actions speak louder than words. 

Take Action: What can you do to maximize your productivity and efficiency levels? Sometimes, you need to slow down to speed up. Take some time to identify areas for improvement, then determine and implement solutions

Leadership on the GO…..It’s O.N.


The Valuation of Value

by Onyeka Nchege on May 3, 2016



As a CIO, it is often that I have to present the value-add entities that our IT organization is providing to the overall company. I talk about things like the amount of continuous connectivity the network team provides to our employees, the efficiencies provided through our software releases and the unremitting support our helpdesk provides. Those, and more, are things that can be quantitatively measured and displayed through reporting for our organization to consume and make their assessments.  Though these are critical extents needed to determine overall vision and direction, I recently had to ask myself, what methods of valuation need to be practiced to ensure individuals know they are valued.

There are numerous ways to measure tangible items like time and assets, but there are limited ways to measure intangible items like human feelings. More to that point, we can measure the tangible without needing to engage humans much at all, but we cannot measure the intangibles at all without engaging in some sort of human interaction. In short, this means that we as leaders within our organizations need to be purposeful in practicing the methods of valuation, so that we instill the feeling of being valued to all individuals. Some suggestions regarding value include the following: 

    Alleviate Your Assumptions – An unfortunate criticism I have heard in every organization I have been a part of is, “my manager only speaks to their favorites.”  This is often due to assumptions being at the forefront of thoughts and actions as opposed to a general openness in approaching everyone.

      Set Up for Success  – As those in an organization are tasked with new responsibilities and challenges, they need to be set up to be successful from the beginning. In addition, they need to be supported throughout the process. They should be allowed to run, but they should have the support of a running coach along the way.

      Convey Criticality – Everyone wants to feel that what they are doing is adding value, therefore, it is important to provide examples of things individuals have accomplished to show how intricate they are to the overall success of the department. 

      Intentional Interactions – In this age of social media, texting, IMing and etc., positive, physical human interaction has a more lasting effect than kind words on a screen. And, more so, it is critical to be mentally present during that interaction.

      Investment in the Individual – Contributing to an individual’s growth by providing them with needed training, coaching or mentoring shows that an investment is being made to increase their valuation.

    In leadership, it is often hard to balance the value of the tangible and intangible, but it is critical to show the value of both. You cannot sum up the worth of a person by merely focusing on a person’s output and what they can do for you. You must take a vested interest in what is being put in them as well. When you take the time to focus on developing and nurturing the person as a whole (i.e. what motivates them, how do they like to learn, what are their fears) you will then begin to appreciate and value them more fully. You will also notice, they will in turn appreciate and value you

    Take Action: If you are in a leadership position, invest in the individuals you have been called to lead. Understand their needs and feelings and put that above what they can do for you. When you do that, you will not only be benefitting them, you will be benefitting yourself! 

    Leadership on the Go…It’s O.N


    Finally – Tomorrow is Here!

    April 19, 2016

    “An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of intention” ~ Dr. Steve Maraboli As many of you read this, you already have made intended plans to carry out in your tomorrow. You intend to wear certain clothes, or put some time in on that big project, or reach […]

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    People in Glass Houses Need to Throw Stones

    January 11, 2016

    Most of us have heard the glass ceiling adage in which one can see the place they want to reach but is stuck at a certain level due to a “glass ceiling” impeding them. It is true that there are many glass ceilings, (often ending in the suffix ism), that can be imposed to limit our […]

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    Simply Grateful…

    November 25, 2015

      “When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others” ~ Dalai Lama  During this time of year we are encouraged most to think of others and reflect on all that we are thankful for. In both of those regards I can honestly say that I am thankful most for those that […]

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