Let’s begin with the idea of spark. By spark, I mean the spark that inspires people to innovate and create. As with trust, spark feeds an essential need. We respond positively to those who inspire our creativity, and conversely, we respond negatively to those who do not inspire us. Creative spark is crucial is you seek to succeed in a world where change is constantly accelerating.
But spark without trust can be damaging, leading to useless innovations and even destructive ones. Leaders must know how to inspire trust while at the same time sparking new products, new processes, and new practices. Southwest Airlines, FedEx, and Google are three examples of highly successful companies that have built strong organizations based on trust and creative spark.
Spark occurs when you tap into people’s creative impulses. It requires providing the freedom for people to explore new ideas without fear. Innovation happens when there’s a big vision, clearly communicated, and the entire team is focused on achieving that vision. It exists when there are clear performance measures in place to evaluate the work, and the performance is evaluated fairly and consistently.
In light speed organizations, trust and spark feed off of one another. One causes the other. By creating an environment of trust, you enable people to be open to change. By energizing spark, you unleash the innovation that makes an organization vibrate with new ideas and real purpose.
When you combine the benefits of trust and spark, amazing things can happen. You are able to attract and maintain the most talented and motivated employees. You constantly innovate. You surprise and delight your customers. You perform at a higher level than your peers. When trust and spark work together, it does not guarantee a peaceful environment. When people feel free, they can begin to ask questions and air conflicting opinions. The culture shifts to one in which people focus on the performance of the entire organization. When you’re operating at light speed, everyone is invested in the organization and “runs it like they own it.”