ITL #565   Lessons from tech innovators: make 2024 the year you get UNSTUCK

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Feeling stuck? How tech industry innovators take on challenges could help you move forward successfully once again. By Heather Kernahan.



That feeling of being stuck is one we’ve all experienced. It can be a feeling you can’t shake and haven’t been able to work your way out of with your usual tools and techniques. Stuck can also be a series of thoughts that loop on repeat through your brain day in and day out, holding you back from moving forward.

 

Being stuck has become pervasive in our work lives. So many of us who are running a business or leading a team aren’t getting the results we want. We pride ourselves on always finding a way forward and we expect to win but lately we can’t seem to find the solutions to problems as readily as we have in the past. Being stuck is holding us back and we crave a way to break free.

 

I came to this realization in the Fall of 2020. I was having a lot of conversations with clients, teams, friends, and family. The word “stuck” kept coming up. People were either already stuck, worried about getting stuck, or thinking about how their team was stuck. It made me think about the industry that I’ve spent my career in – technology – and how tech always finds a way to keep moving forward. The industry might stumble and slow down at times but then it surges ahead.

 

The tech industry works at breakneck speed. World changing visions can span mere decades rather than centuries, new advancements get coded in two-week sprints, and the whole industry runs on visionaries with the guts, audacity, and stamina to keep going in the face of any challenge. As I worked in and alongside startups, fast growth companies, and global enterprises that acted like every day was a high stakes situation for them, I started to see the similarities in how they thought, acted, and made decisions. And so was born the blueprint and the inspiration for my book, “UNSTUCKABLE: Lessons from tech innovators anyone can use to never be stuck in business again,” that draws on insights from how the tech industry navigates through the unknown, consistently innovates and keeps moving forward. Here are the highlights of the UNSTUCK model to get you started on being unstuck:

 

Understanding where you want to be 
Having a vision of where you want to be is the first step to getting unstuck. It can also be the hardest. Some people are worried that if they commit to a vision and a set of goals that they are locked into a defined path and that they’ll miss opportunities they never could have imagined. And on the flip side, they feel that by leaving all possibilities open they’ll capture everything. Finding the right balance is the key to success.

 

New thinking 
New thinking is so intrinsic to the DNA of most tech companies. Tech leaders have developed the ability to see around corners and constantly develop new ideas as they advance toward their vision. However, in order for new thinking to lead to meaningful breakthroughs, you need to engage in new thinking with purpose.

 

Setting tentative goals 
Goal setting is a big topic, and I can tell you that we’ve all been doing it wrong. Did you know that only 9% of people who set New Year’s goals achieve them? That is a terrible result for the biggest goal setting moment of the year. What’s clear is that definitive goal setting isn’t the path toward success. 

 

Think + act big 
This is a secret that many startups, scale ups and successful enterprises know. You must be acting as a big brand and company long before you’ve reached those traditional milestones of success. Building a perception and buzz about your company supports meeting important growth goals, attracts the right talent, and helps you break through when you’re unknown. The same thinking can be applied to how you act.
 

Unusual moves 
Tech leaders experiment and try new ideas. They create unexpected partnerships, sometimes with their competitors! And I’ve seen them rip up entire business lines to invest in products all based on client feedback. Doing the unexpected can lead to amazing results.  
 

Creating new 
This is what the tech industry does best. They create new categories, companies, products, and services by coupling their big vision with action. And this isn’t always a straight path. Failures are often seen as part of the journey to success. Sometimes when an idea isn’t quite the right one that results in traction for the business, pivoting becomes the roadmap to keep going.
 

Keep going 
No matter what comes your way, when you are unstuck, you can always keep going forward. To keep going, you must celebrate all the small and big wins all the along the way. Most high performers wait until the final success to celebrate but there are good reasons why you should celebrate all along the journey and share what you’re building and what you’re learning with others along the way. 

 

It's this framework and the lessons and tools within each step that has helped me and so many successful leaders and companies navigate their way to being unstuck and realizing their goals. If you or your team can use inspiration, tools and ideas for keeping unstuck I hope the book is helpful.

 

 


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The Author

Heather Kernahan

Heather Kernahan is the Global CEO of Hotwire.

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