Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT July-September 2017 Contents sometimes the formal structures are actu-
ally getting in the way.
Most innovation happens between the
silos, in their adjacencies. So if you are
not communicating across functions or
across levels and dealing effectively with
that diversity of thought, you are not
going to get the kind of healthy conflict
that tends to lead to new ideas.
Army AL&T: It is possible to overcome
those barriers, though. So the question is,
how do you make a concerted effort to
forge ties across bureaucratic boundaries
and get things done through the infor-
mal network you talked about?
Hill: First of all, you need to build a stra-
tegic network—which in our language
is the network that allows you to scan
and sense your environment, to detect
what the future may bring and prepare
for it. Your strategic network basically
helps you figure out the performance
gaps and the opportunity gaps: How do
you know what your priorities should be,
what you should work on? You can only
know that from actually understanding
what the organization’s priorities are, and
understanding the opportunities and
challenges in your area of responsibility.
When we talk about networking, many
people experience it as a dirty word or
evidence that the organization doesn’t
work. Well, no. The only way you can
know what your team should be working
on is if you are talking to the right people
and they are talking to you. You don’t
just want to have the bosses tell you what
those priorities are and what the capabil-
ity constraints are. You also want to be
able to inform your bosses of what you
know, what they should be taking into
account and understanding. You want
those to be two-way conversations.
So when you are building networks, you
need to be deliberate and think about
who do I need to be connected to, both
in the military and outside the military,
to understand the opportunities and the
challenges that we are facing. I try to help
leaders understand that that is a part of
your job. The only way you can answer
those questions is if you are interacting
with the right people and having two-
way conversations. Don’t tell them, this
is what I am working on and this is how
you can help me. Instead, ask, “What are
your pain points and how can I help you
get the job done?” Then, when you set
your priorities for your own team, they
are more likely to accept what you are
trying to do, right?
Then you also need to build the opera-
tional network that allows you to actually
get things done—to close those gaps, to
work on those priorities. If people don’t
trust you, they are certainly not going
to help you work on an opportunity gap
because they have so many performance
gaps of their own to work on.
I always tell people, think about who you
are dependent on to get your job done
now. Then think about who you are going
to be dependent on six months from now,
and introduce yourself to those people.
Because if they don’t trust you, if they
don’t know what they can expect from
you or if they can’t influence you, they
are not going to help you get your agenda
done. Not because they are bad people,
but just because we are all human. So try
to build relationships with people before
you actually need those relationships.
Army AL&T: I would like to talk about
your work on leading innovation and
“Collective Genius.” Tell me about the
approach that you talk about in the book.
Hill: The research on innovation is quite
separate from the research on leadership,
and we were looking at that connec-
tion. Often we sort of have this myth in
our head that innovation is about a solo
genius having an “aha!” moment. But in
fact, the research has been clear for quite
some time that most innovations are the
result of collaborations among people
who have diverse perspectives or talents.
The second thing is, we know that you
really can’t plan your way to an innova-
tion; you have to act your way to it. It is
a process of discovery-driven learning.
There are missteps and wrong turns and,
of course, actual failures.
We know that most innovations are actu-
ally a combination of ideas, often old
and new. Very rarely is an innovation the
result of a single idea. And the final thing
is that innovation is really hard work, and
I always tell people to ask themselves, how do people
experience you, and how do people experience
themselves when they are with you? Because
leadership is always about an emotional connection.
84 Army AL&T Magazine
FIRST, MANAGE YOURSELF
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