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Ready, aim, fire: How to enable creativity and innovation in our organisations

As a consultancy with more than 75 years of experience helping companies drive operational transformation through people, we have learned a thing or two about the need to innovate. Innovation plays a critical role in sustaining and maintaining operational improvements particularly after the transformation is embedded into the organisation.

For an organisation to be creative it requires two things – firstly, it needs to attract and get the best out of its people and, secondly, it needs a process to harness that creativity and turn it into products and services that customers want.

We use a simple model to help with the implementation of ideas: READY– AIM – FIRE.

Most of you would recognise Ready - Aim - Fire as a military analogy: you first need to know the target and have the appropriate information and resources, then you need to take aim before going into action. Get one of these steps wrong, or miss it out completely can lead to catastrophic consequences.

Whilst I am not suggesting that organisations be run on military lines, there are a number of parallels and lessons that can be applied.

  • Ready - identify what needs to be done and gather all the information and ideas available. If your organisation does not have creative people already, then look outside to benchmarking or bring in that expertise by using consultants or even interim resource.
  • Aim - choose the best solution or strategy. Filter and analyse the ideas to come up with something that is practical and meets the organisation’s objectives. This is a process of screening and building ideas into something that is workable, not a process of killing them.
  • Fire – implement.

Idea worth implementing:  As an alternative I’d like to suggest something a bit more risky - READY – FIRE – AIM. Come up with an idea (Ready) - try it out immediately in a low risk or pilot project (Fire) - and learn from this experiment (Aim). Then use the learning to redesign and refine the idea.  Failing fast can be a useful way of learning and developing an offer for the market.

Management gurus like Peter Drucker, Henry Mintzberg, and Tom Peters implore us to allow people in organisations to pilot their ideas, try something out and then correct the design or plan when they have learned from the initial mistakes. Using READY-FIRE-AIM forces this process. We call this Rapid Prototyping.