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The importance of being open & inclusive in the workplace

Actualizado: 28 may 2020

This is the story of Paul, a manager who thought that listening to his team members was not important. He was named the manager, and that implied that he already knew what the good decisions were, so why listen and ask? What could they know that I don’t know? And plus, this would complicate the decision making, too many opinions and if I have to consider them all, that would take too much time, time that I don’t have!

This situation happens unfortunately too often….. 

Listening, asking questions and taking people into consideration, doesn’t mean that you have to believe and do everything they say, because people might be wrong, but they might be right too…

Jan is from Copenhagen, he’s new to the country and to the job. When he gets into the meeting rooms, he realizes that Spanish people function very differently to what he has been used to. He wants to say something, try to propose new ideas so the company could get better results. But nobody listens to him, every time he talks they look at him and say: “You don’t know how things are in Spain, what you say doesn’t make sense here”

Questions like: What is going on with our competitors? What is happening in other countries? How can we improve? Keep growing? Are uncomfortable to some people, and the logical answer for them is:

Why are you asking so many questions? Aren’t we growing already? What we are doing works, we are the number one in the market, let’s not change and keep doing what we know best. 

This is what the general director of KODAK probably said to his collaborators when they were suggesting having a look at the digital market. 

In the 80s KODAK had more than 128,000 employees, $9 billion in revenue and profits that exceeded over $1 billion.

In the 90’s, digital photography appearedà the market changed! 

Those were the words of KODAK’s executives: it’s filmless photography, “that’s cute—but don’t tell anyone about it”

Kodak tried to adapt to the digital world, but it was a case of too little, too late.

In 2011, Kodak filed for Bankruptcy.

Luckily, not all companies behave the same way, let’s have a look at a couple of companies that analysed the environment, saw an opportunity, risked and won, and that it would have been impossible any other way.

SWATCH: In the 80’s and 90’s the Swiss, and some savvy American newcomers to the watch industry, launched a revolution of their own. This revolution created a new watch category: the fashion watch. It’s not what’s inside the watch that counts, these brands said, but what’s outside. What makes watches cool, they claimed, is not electronic accuracy but original, even outrageous, design. It created a new phenomenon: “watch wardrobing,” i.e., buying multiple watches for different outfits or occasions. 

But what is even more amazing about SWATCH, is that the other watch companies in Switzerland, known by their precision and amazing watches, based above all on the inside, predicted that the Swatch adventure would be an absolute failure…..they could not have been more mistaken!

This is the first real example of a company that “lived” this openness: Their leaders were open -> this was the only way to accept such an innovative idea. They understood the market, they thought about all the different possibilities and all different preferences, and they risked. They were inclusive -> because with the variety of products and designs their offered they were clearly thinking about several targets. You can have a Swatch for every occasion. They even created a need that didn’t exist until that moment, the need to have a second watch, and a third and a fourth….. That’s why their name comes from: “Second Watch” SWATCH

Let’s have a look at the second example LEGO: The Lego brick that children know and love started taking shape shortly after World War II, yet the brick may not have been as powerful as it is today if it wasn’t for some significant changes taken around the turn of the millennium.

In 1998, the toymaker faced its first loss in its history. The company wa