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FedEx Delivers: How the World's Leading Shipping Company Keeps Innovating and Outperforming the Competition by Madan Birla

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Chapter 6

Expect and Help Employees to Continually Grow

Original ideas come from reassembling knowledge in new ways. But you need to have that knowledge in your mind before you can reassemble it.

—Leon Borstein, President, Bard College

Chapter 5 helped draw a line between an employee's responsibilities and their direct effect on the design and delivery of the company's customer value propositions. In this chapter, I define the knowledge and skills required for employees to develop innovative solutions (see Figure 6.1).

Innovation starts with the generation of ideas. The mind generates creative ideas by making connections between seemingly unrelated variables. The creative impulse springs from seeing new possibilities and new combinations. Although managers often say to employees, “We need to think outside the box,” they do not really understand the conditions that must be in place for employees to do so.

To engage in creative thinking, the mind must have new dots—the result of an expanded knowledge base and a well developed natural capacity for imagination, or right brain thinking. For employees to think outside the proverbial box, two conditions must be present in the workplace. The first condition is having access to dots (knowledge base) outside the normal frame of reference. If the box is a department within the company, the dots outside the box represent knowledge of the total business processes within the company and outside the industry. If the box is technical knowledge, ...

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