3 Unconventional Keys to Business Success

By: Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, Northeast Indiana Innovation Center

If you want to improve your company, where might you begin? It turns out sometimes the keys to success are not always conventional. Here are a few you might not have previously considered:

  1. Encourage and nurture intellectual curiosity — yours and others.
  2. Are you fostering an environment where independent thinking and problem-solving thrives? Stellar companies intentionally hire people for the right qualities they want in their future leaders. Independent thinking and problem-solving skills are always in demand, yet most companies do not make the investment in their workforce in a significant way.

    Most successful companies are successful because they have taken an intentional approach to employee development. They have developed a consistent on-boarding system that works. While this is a great way to replicate success, it can sometimes rob the workplace of creativity. It is not sufficient for management to simply drill the “answers” into the employee, management must challenge his/her team to come to their own conclusions. So while creativity is coming up with ideas, entrepreneurship (or intrapreneurship for that matter) is often putting those highest quality ideas into action.

  3. Develop a “Personal” One page Strategic Plan that brands you.
  4. You must intentionally develop your personal brand. One’s personal life can spill into work life and vice versa. We’re only human and not everything can be compartmentalized. It is critical that individuals be happy with both arenas. Smart businesses know they need to acknowledge wins in both areas. For example, they might applaud and encourage employees who enroll in courses or seminars designed to further develop life skills such as goal setting. These are skills that can help a person all around, including in one’s career. Wellness programs are another idea. Employees who eat right and exercise regularly tend to be more productive than their less healthy peers. If I were to ask you what one word you associate with Volvo, you would say “safety”. If I said Disney, you would say “happiness”. So if you were describing yourself, what one word do you want to be most associated with your name? For me, I want it to be “learner”.

  5. Celebrate. Celebrate. Celebrate.
  6. Are you recognizing your shining stars or your rock stars? Don’t forget about your steady, consistent employees who might go unnoticed because they didn’t do one particular thing to distinguish their performance but they consistently deliver over time. While business is often performance driven, don’t lose sight of the everyday wins. In recognizing your company’s unsung heroes, you can create more of a good thing. Along the way, celebrations are important to reinforce success. Be sure to inventory your organization’s best successes and greatest accomplishments. You might be surprised by what you and your team accomplished.

Does your company embrace any of these principles? If so, I’d love to hear your insights.


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