Dealing with ambiguity, creativity, innovation management
Is this a self-help or car magazine? This time out, we’re going to take a look at dealing with ambiguity, creativity, and innovation management. In response to reader feedback, this installment is 59% shorter than the last one!
I’m tagging all of these articles #67 (for the 67 competencies we’ll be exploring together). You’ll find a #67 linking to the complete listing of all the articles at both the beginning and end of each installment.
Disclaimer: Remember, I don’t have the official Lominger documentation for this, nor am I a licensed consultant. These articles are merely my personal, high level exploration of the 67 Lominger competencies in name only, as listed all over the internet, and should not be construed as being the intellectual property of or otherwise endorsed by Korn/Ferry.
IS THIS A SELF-HELP OR CAR MAGAZINE?
I’m going to scale these competency pieces down considerably. It’s been brought to my attention these have been running a bit too long and maybe too often. I want GBXM to inspire and empower you to get more mileage out of your automotive pursuits. Not every article will have the intended effect, but I’ll never stop trying. Keep your eyes peeled for a survey in the near future asking you about GBXM.
Now here’s the STFU-and-get-to-the-point-Brian version of the next installment.
CREATING THE NEW AND DIFFERENT
Which do you prefer – old and busted, or the new hotness? Would you still be driving that thing if you could trade it straight-up for something brand new and equivalent? The new hotness is where it’s at. Your current employer – even if that’s you, personally – is always looking for that next new idea that will lead to greater profits.
GBXM isn’t supposed to be a self-help blog. I want it to help. Let’s see if I can keep this one under 2,000 words!
 DEALING WITH AMBIGUITY
Not sure what to do next on your project? Feeling a little uncertain about the future in general? Let’s take a quick look at some of the skills we’ve developed over the years in automotive terms.
COPING WITH CHANGE, SHIFTING GEARS – Many automotive performance concepts are universal. For example, we know conventional, gas engines require the correct air-fuel mixture to operate, but fuel systems can vary extensively. MAF/MAS/MAP, TBI/MPI/DI, and so on. Our understanding of the fundamentals makes it easier for us to shift gears between platforms. We gearheads are pretty good at dealing with change when we want to.
ACTING WITHOUT THE BIG PICTURE, UP IN THE AIR – Being a big picture kinda guy, myself, I’m weak in this area. Frankly, I don’t even know how it’s possible to act without the big picture. Even if all you have is a moral compass guiding you, you have a sense of direction, which is a sort of big picture. I hate when everything is up in the air. Are you good at doing things without any explanation of why they need done? Then you’re better at this than I am!
MOVING ON, RISK & UNCERTAINTY – I know a guy who’s something of a perfectionist. He bought this car as an investment, and every time he did any maintenance, he would end up down a rabbit hole, looking to perfect every square inch of the machine. Bulb burn out in the instrument cluster? Good excuse to rip the entire dash out, repaint all the mounting brackets, clean up the wiring loom, and so on.
Clearly he’s comfortable with uncertainty, as there’s risk the car will ever go back together again, at least not in the coming months. Moving on is all about compromise in my book. Sure, we’d all love to do our own “Icon level” restoration one day, but sometimes we know how many gearheads it takes to change a light bulb.
INCREMENTAL PROGRESS, ACTION – I’ll give you a personal example. In the last couple years, I’ve found myself really interested in overlanding. For those not familiar, think self-sustained, long distance travel by vehicle (or off-road RV travel). Now, I could rattle off a list of dozens of mods I want for this – ARB fridge, winch, lockers, solar, etc. – but I have to balance perfection with action. I need to zoom in and focus incremental progress.
This is a good place to revisit SMART goals. Instead of a big goal like, “build an overlanding rig” or “drive to Ushuaia” – two goals which might be specific and actionable, but are so far down the road as to be pointless – it would be smarter to set goals aligned with basic vehicle reliability (fix that oil leak) and shorter trips (weekend on the Rim). Knocking out these smaller pieces of the puzzle keeps us motivated and moving forward.
GETTING ORGANIZED – We’ve all seen the glamour garage pictures. Shiny floors, matching cabinets, all the Snap-on tools hung with care on the pegboard over the spotless “work” bench. But we really need to get organized if we’re going to get anything done. My Google Drive, where I work on all the stories you read here, is highly organized. My garage, on the other hand, is a dust-covered shell of a motorsport dream piled almost to the ceiling with boxes and random tools. It bugs me, but it’s so much work!
WHAT IF I FAIL? What if I start running all this competency stuff on the site and nobody likes it? What if everyone really just wants more vacuous, new model reviews and a couple words about that funny thing from Reddit yesterday? I dunno. Sometimes you just gotta say fuck it and follow your dream, ya know?
10 years from now, what’s going to matter? That angry customer, the number of times you dropped that wrench trying to reach whatever-the-hell-it-was on the back of the block, those piston rings you eyeballed? Dude. I know. Volcanic rage in the moment, but 10 years from now – we’ll probably look back and laugh, if we remember them at all. If you believe in something. Do it. Don’t look back.
“Two boys arrived yesterday with a pebble they said was the head of a dog until I explained to them it was really a typewriter.” Pablo Picasso said that. It reads like a tongue twister, but it’s one of my favorites. I’ll put it in gearhead terms for you. “Two gearheads arrived yesterday with a beat up Miata they said was a ChumpCar until I explained to them there was nothing chump about it.” Not that I had anything to do with the Project Lazarus Miata, but the interview is in progress, so it’s fresh in my mind.
You’re a gearhead. You’ve got a picture in your head of what your vehicle will be like when it’s finished. You’ve figured out how to get it home when something fails on the road. I don’t need to explain creativity to you.
 INNOVATION MANAGEMENT
Wouldn’t it be nice to sit down across the table from your boss – past, present, future, otherwise – and say something like, “I’ve been thinking a lot lately about innovation management…” That’s baller, right there. We’re building on complex decision making with this one, but here’s some thoughts.
GET GOOD IDEAS TO MARKET – Years ago, a buddy and I saw all these ground wire kits hitting the market. I don’t remember why we started looking into making them ourselves, but we did some shopping around and discovered we could buy the raw materials super cheap. We could build platform specific kits for something like $5 each – and sell them for $25. It was a good idea, we got it to market, and made a few bucks. (I never actually installed my own.) Have you ever had an idea for a part, tool, shirt or sticker design, or even website? Maybe you helped a friend make something happen? What did it take to get that idea in front of people who would buy it?
VISUALIZE IDEAS INTO EXISTENCE – We’re gearheads. We get all kinds of crazy ideas. I’d love to one day pick up one of those Mitsubishi Lancer wagons, throw some DSM/Evo bits under it, and build myself an Evo IX GT. Or, better yet, find an old Diamante/Sigma wagon and throw 3000GT/GTO running gear under it. I also want a 4D56T (turbo diesel)-powered Galant or DSM. And then there’s all the ideas I have for GBXM. But what good are ideas if we don’t act on them?
UNDERSTAND THE MARKET – Can you say business acumen? There are some subtleties to this one. I understand the type of content that gets the most clicks. Sensationalism! You’re not going to believe what happens next! I also know there’s an unserved market in the automotive market – gearheads who want their professional lives to be more than just a paycheck. The question, though, is how do I find those people looking for a mix of fresh automotive stories and self-help?
That example is maybe a bit left field for some people, so let’s suppose you’re looking to land a couple sponsors for your racing efforts. Who might you approach? What do you have to offer them? (PRO TIP: It had better be a lot more than “exposure.”) If you understand the market, you don’t just know what a potential sponsor is looking for – you suggest ways you can deliver!
59% SHORTER THAN LAST TIME!
Making Complex Decisions was 4100 words. This one’s 1686 words, meaning it’s 59% shorter. I get it. We all want to live better lives, and it would be awesome if we could spend more time doing things related to “playing with cars,” but that doesn’t mean we want to read 4,000+ word essays on business jargon.
I appreciate your patience while we find our groove and get dialed into this lane. Remember, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, get in touch!
[ featured image: Mark Sebastian, IM Free ]