, , , , ,

Sometimes we have to accept the reality that innovation can’t always be planned,  but when we find a pattern to help us increase the likelihood of spontaneity – why not try to learn it and bake it into the corporate culture?

In their new book “Great by Choice,” Jim Collins and Morten Hansen have identified some of these patterns. One I loved was “Zoom In Zoom Out” that describes how executives at innovative companies “Zoom Out” to take a strategic view of the situation before “Zooming In” to take action when the ground shifts under their feet. But they don’t just get all zoomy for the fun of it; they look for a specific data point when they Zoom Out, which is how much time do we have not to act before our risk profile changes? This designated time parameter then becomes the de facto boundary of our tactical response, allowing more strategic actions if more time is available and less if it’s not.

How Come Doctors Get All The Protocols?

I love the specificity of this observation, which makes it prescriptive. “Zooming Out” isn’t just about “getting perspective,” it’s about developing a protocol, which can be trained and integrated into the corporate culture to be followed in specific circumstances. When things shift fast, Zoom Out to determine how much time you have to act before your risk profile changes. Then Zoom back In to work with the time boundaries you’ve got. Wouldn’t this be a great leadership development tool to train all your up-and-comers?

I used to work in a company where volatile public relations realities were periodically a factor. Our office had a ringed corridor and several of us used to “walk the ring” at least once before responding to emergency press calls during certain delicate periods. I think we were “Zooming Out” and didn’t really realize it. When “walking the ring,” became a cultural phenomenon, everyone learned to respect and offer to help the walker. I’m sure as a result we made better decisions.

Do you have experience Zooming In and Zooming Out? Have you seen how evaluating your time parameters leads to better decision-making?

This post originally appeared on the Reclaiming Leadership blog. Check out my new self-service women’s leadership coaching website:InPowerCoaching.com.

Dana Theus