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…part of the Diamond Dozen series

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Dr Craig Barson, Focus Product Development talks about

innovation  .  teams  .  credibility

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Elaine…  It is no secret that you were my first ‘corporate-world’ boss.  Without being cheesy you had a hugely positive impact on me in the early stages of my career.  What advice would you give to emerging leaders wishing to get the best out of their teams?

Craig…  A leader must do just that, lead.  Whilst in the military you give orders, in business you have to do it differently.  For me it was always “how would I like to be led?”  Treat your team members with respect, be prepared to change your mind if something sensible is offered by them and then decide what is to be done.  Once the decision is made everyone should be clear of what they are expected to do and by when.  Lack of clarity or ambiguity can be a very disruptive trait in a leader. Also, be prepared to empower your team and then expect them to fail sometimes.  Provided the failure becomes a learning experience, it will be worth the failure. This will allow the team to grow and build in confidence.  Ideally you want them to operate independently of the leader in a predictable way.  That way, no unpleasant surprises!!

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Elaine… Focus PD has become a market leader in innovative product development in a challenging and highly regulated sector.  How did you go about building credibility and trust for your organisation and products/services?

Craig…  In our business, Medical Devices, it is essential to have the necessary standards in order to be credible. Having achieved the standard it is essential to live and breathe it.  No easy way or shortcuts.   When dealing with customers or, for that matter suppliers, you need to treat them fairly, honestly and just deliver what you say you would when you said you would.  Nothing magical about that.  After that it is a case of “keep repeating” until your customer becomes “dependent” on the expectation of the same thing/service every time. Excellence then becomes a habit that customers cannot live without.

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Elaine…  Developing new products is at the core of your business, what are your 3 top tips for maintaining and fueling the drive to innovate; personally and/or in others?

Development of ideas and technology transfer enable us to produce products which help hundreds of thousands of people annually in the UK and their well-being matters to us.  To maintain momentum when it comes to innovation my top trumps would be:

(1)  Encourage thinking outside the box,

(2) Be supportive of all ideas (yes! and ?); I have found this to be a good brainstorming technique, and

(3) Keep your “development” people excited by what they do. This can mean doing many and different things but for most people just the fact that they are valued, respected and supported can be all that is needed.

There is a fourth thing, if I could indulge you. Many people I have met bring an individual’s personality into decision making. Hate the guy or gal, hate the idea. It is important to disassociate personality and an individual’s ideas.  If you dislike someone it is not impossible that they have good ideas.  Be on the lookout for these “gems”, they can come from the most unlikely places.

 

Diamond_DozenLearn more about my Diamond Dozen…

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