Employee Engagement with W’s and I’s: How To Tap the Working Genius of Wonder and Invention to Drive Growth

Employee Engagement with W’s and I’s: How To Tap the Working Genius of Wonder and Invention to Drive Growth

October 12, 20234 min read

Patrick Lencioni identifies six types of Working Genius®. (If you aren’t in the loop on this go buy this book now!) These are areas that bring each of us joy in our work.

My thesis is that two of the most critical of these geniuses, Wonder (W) and Invention (I), are the most underutilized. Thus, these people are at risk of leaving your company and going to work for a competitor—or starting their own company. 

This was my story. Early in my career with my Working Geniuses of Invention and Wonder, I found myself stuck inside a district sales manager role in a large company. While I wanted to innovate, nobody really cared about anything but delivering on the quarterly number. Yes, I hit my number, becoming the top rep in the company within a few years of joining. However, while I did my best to stay engaged, eventually boredom set in.  

My managers and peers were shocked when I left. I was at the top of my game. They couldn’t understand why I would step down from being an elite performer in a role with great career potential.

Looking back with 20 years in the rearview mirror, I can say that the reason I left is simple: I was bored. Nobody gave me an avenue to exercise my Invention and Wonder.

How many W’s and I’s are bored inside your company? 

Most established company’s focus on operational excellence to “preserve the core.” While operational excellence is necessary, Jim Collins insists that we also need to “stimulate progress” by inventing the future. (More on this topic: Escaping the Operational Excellence Trap: How Companies Get Out of Balance and What To Do About It.)

Who better to invent the future than W’s and I’s backed with some wisdom from people with D’s (Discernment). Yet I bet most of these people feel disengaged, stuck in roles that demand production and provide little outlet for strategy and innovation.

Looking back on my role at the large company, I wonder what would have happened if they invited me to be a part of a Strategic Innovation Council. (You know, “The Council” that Jim Collins insists every company should have yet very few actually do. Check out pages 114-116 of Good to Great—what Vern Harnish calls “the three most important pages ever written in business.”)

I suspect that had I been invited to spend a few hours a week working in the joy of working in my I/W genius, I would have been much more engaged in my job. There is a much greater chance that I might still be in the company.

How could engage your innovative team members? Here are a few ideas:

1. Figure Out Who Has the Working Genius of Wonder and/or Invention

If you haven’t had all of your employees take their Working Genius, I highly recommend this. It gives you a quick view as to what brings each of your team members joy. If your people are not spending at least some of your work week in an area that brings you joy, my guess is that you are at risk of turning over some great employees.

Working Genius is easy and affordable. And, I can introduce you to some great coaches who can help you understand the results and create an organizational plan.

2. Start an Strategic Innovation Council

Find some of your W’s and I’s, plus a few D’s, and put them to work on a Strategic Innovation Council. Gather regularly to dream about the future. Provide a platform to pilot, optimize, and package great ideas to hand off to the Implementer to roll out. 

If you’d like to talk about rolling out a Strategic Innovation Council in your company, private message me and I’ll share a framework I’ve created that can fit into an organization that has already mastered the art of operational excellence with a platform like EOS®.

Let me bottom line this. You have an incredible wealth of untapped ideas inside your company with W’s and I’s. Engage these people and you will unlock new opportunities for growth. Ignore them and they will probably go to work for a competitor—or start their own company and become a competitor.

Originally Published on Darrell Amy's LinkedIn.

Employee Engagement6 Types of Working Genius
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Darrell Amy

Darrell helps generous entrepreneurs build engines to grow revenue so they can give more. He is the author of Revenue Growth Engine: How To Align Sales & Marketing To Accelerate Growth. In addition to serving as a Forbes Business Council Advisor, Darrell is a keynote speaker and regular podcaster.

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