Unlock Your Secret Supply of Innovation
To engender innovation in all things, from policy to procedure to culture, you need every employee to be part of the solution. How do you teach people to bring an entrepreneurial mindset to their work? By cultivating a culture of "intra-preneurs."
Our mission at LexION Capital is to build a better Wall Street for all. It is not enough to raise the bar with our higher standards (ethical, transparent, client-centric wealth management). Each layer of our approach, from high-level mission down to daily operations, must be disruptive of the deeply-entrenched "business as usual" mindset in finance.
Encourage productive questioning by constantly gathering feedback
Invite your team to spend creative time investigating "What if?" The more feedback, the better, and the more frequently you solicit that feedback, the more habitual this type of thinking will become. At LexION, we achieve this with the three ups-three downs system of input. We also have quarterly firm-wide submissions of suggestions for new growth opportunities. Everyone anonymously submits a "dream goal" that they would love to see happen in the coming quarter.
Invite employees to run with ideas
With LexION's quarterly dream goals, some suggestions may be the equivalent of shooting for the stars--but what entrepreneur doesn't do that? Communicate to your team that new ideas are welcomed and that the sky's the limit for inspiration. Facebook, for example, does this with posters hung throughout their workspace: "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"
Further, establish a culture of ownership. At LexION, we have a system of success-based project and task management. When someone comes up with a great idea, they can also earn the responsibility to make it happen. This is an environment that rewards those who take initiative. And, getting your team directly involved and invested in the outcome of their ideas not only increases engagement, it helps spawn additional inspiration, ideas, and improvements. At LexION Capital, this culture gave birth to our sister company, LexION Access.
Teach your employees to think scale
Push people to think scale in all things. Use two key questions as a starting point. First, does this idea make strategic sense for our business and our brand? Second, how can we grow this, and how quickly?
This is how the second branch of my firm, LexION Access, came to fruition. Initially, when I founded LexION Capital we served only investors with a million dollars or more in liquid assets. I wanted to be able to serve people who had worked hard to create any size nest egg. In the early days with very finite bandwidth available, I lacked the resources to service additional clients at the rigorously high standard I am committed to. So, the LexION Access branch, which caters to investors with one hundred thousand to one million in liquid assets, was fueled with innovations led by my team. It started as a powerful idea about how to further our mission--making fiduciary wealth management an accessible reality--and later in LexION's growth journey, with more staff and more resources, we were finally able to open the doors even wider. The whole way, LexION Access was encouraged, nurtured, and expanded upon by LexION employees who noticed a gap in the market and advocated for the interests of their peer group. Our progress circles back to those two questions: how can we grow this? How quickly?
As an entrepreneur, your innovative instincts and keen eye for growth opportunities are innate. There's no reason you can't train your entire team to use those same qualities as intra-preneurs--mission-minded, multi-hat-wearing, innovative dreamers. That way, everyone wins.
ELLE KAPLAN | Columnist | CEO, Lexion Capital Management
A finance expert and self-made entrepreneur, Elle Kaplan is the CEO and founding partner of Lexion Capital Management, the only 100 percent woman-owned asset management firm in the U.S.