Raising the level of your leadership

Brian Edler For CEO

If you have been watching March Madness, you have no doubt seen the Domino’s Pizza ad that tells how Brian Edler of Findlay,Ohio, invented the Parmesan Bread Bites that are featured in the ads. Patrick Doyle, the CEO of Domino’s, says that “new ideas don’t usually come up from the local store level, but a great idea can come from anywhere.”

Now, if Doyle really believes that “a great idea can come from anywhere,” I’m not sure why he also says “new ideas don’t usually come up from the local store level.” In my experience, they do. Lots of new and great ideas “come up” from the factory floor, from customers, or from the congregation. However, it won’t happen by accident.

Every organization needs to create a culture in which new ideas are welcomed, encouraged and given visibility.

Every idea deserves a fair hearing, no matter how crazy or improbable it is. Even if it is an old idea, it should be reheard and reconsidered. There is little more demotivating than hearing, “We have tried that before.” Is it possible the problem wasn’t the idea, but the execution?

As the leader, you need to remember that those who are closest to the product…the customer…the congregation…the listener or reader…and so on, are more likely to hear and know the truth than you are. Especially in large organizations, there can be a lot of filters between you and reality.

Finally, every good idea is a lot of work for someone. That is why you can’t say “yes” to everything, but how you say “no” makes a big difference in whether new ideas will continue to “come up.”

Late in the Domino’s commercial, an employee of the Findlay, Ohio, Domino’s suggests that Brian Edler should become the CEO. With a big smile and chuckle, Doyle says “no.” I’m sure he is right. Inventing Parmesan Bread Bites is not a credential to lead a 9000-store international pizza chain. Evidently, Doyle is doing a stellar job–Domino’s stock has risen 350% faster than the stock market as a whole in the last 30 months. Now, if he can just figure out how to get more ideas to “come up,” there is no telling….

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© Copyright 2012 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

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