Entrepreneurs Must Avoid ‘The Great Resignation’

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The skyline of Chicago.

The world is changing much faster than most people realize, and companies stuck in outdated models of business funding, development and management are likely to get wiped out.

I’ve worked with Fortune 500 CEOs, disruptive startups and the world's leading companies on how to apply lean to innovate faster and more successfully. Today, the need has never been greater.

To thrive in this emerging era of “destructive innovation” and match the exponential increase of entrepreneurial opportunities before us, companies need to ramp up the speed, scale and effectiveness with which they bring new ideas to market.

Think Big, Start Small, Learn Fast

Successful innovation in the emerging era must be meaningful, tapping into a deep purpose, solving real problems and improving people’s lives.

Workers want to see their energy contribute to something bigger, something bolder — and help bring to life the future they want to see.

For businesses, success starts with sharing the story of that imagined future, identifying a worthy problem on the path toward it and getting clear on the impact you want to have. Once you’ve created the big vision, it’s about making it real as quickly as possible.

Instead of spending years, or even months, building out the entire vision before releasing it into the world, reduce it down to its first step and ship it. Don’t try to include every bell and whistle or address every possible use case.

Get something in people's hands quickly so they can experience it. Testing an early version in the market and gathering feedback from real users is exciting and motivates teams to keep bringing their best to the effort.

It also helps customers see your big vision coming to life. They can become part of your community, help you improve and spread the word as you bring the full vision into being.

Energize An Entrepreneurial Mindset

To bring out the best in your team members, it’s time to eliminate the old command-and-control management style of centuries past.

People don’t want to be told what to do. They want to understand what constitutes success and have the freedom to figure out the best way to get there.

The next generation wants to be founders of businesses, not just followers. A Nielsen survey revealed 54% plan to start a business and 78% need to do something creative daily to feel productive.

Instead of handing the team a list of requirements to be built and a deadline, shift the focus from outputs (deliverable) to outcomes (business impact).

Then give them the autonomy to find the best path forward, including flexibility around when and where they work.

Cultivating an entrepreneurial culture means giving the team bold challenges to tackle with clear measures of success.

It also means encouraging them to experiment in small ways that make it safe to fail on the path of learning.

Tie Effort To Impact

People have been dissatisfied with the status quo of work for a long time, hence the Great Resignation. Many are leaving their jobs because they can't tie their work to the impact they wish to have.

People are much more motivated about a project or business when they can see and hear how their work has an impact or affects customers.

Nothing lights a team up more than seeing a tweet from happy users or having key business metric improvements celebrated as a result of their efforts.

Help make that connection crystal clear for your teams. Each week you could highlight in your internal channel how the team’s work affected a customer, or even share it publicly.

You could also invite customers to talk to the team about how your product is helping or hindering them. Today’s passionate, creative professionals live for these insights and the learning that comes from them about how to maximize their impact.

Let There Be Meaning

All the data show people want meaningful work, identifiable outcomes of their efforts and recognition for their contributions to something bigger than themselves.

Adopting these principles will attract top talent, help your company succeed and make work and life more enjoyable and fulfilling for everyone.

When your people feel like they’re working toward a big vision, seeing it coming to life and being able to tie their efforts to meaningful impact in the world, not only will you build higher-quality products, you’ll also have a more activated and engaged team that could never imagine working anywhere else.

Barry O’Reilly is the chief incubation officer at Nobody Studios, a globally distributed high-velocity venture studio bringing together investors, founders and creatives to forge companies with purpose, real-world value and a human connection. For more information, visit www.nobodystudios.com.

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