From church sermons to corporate offsites to yoga classes, we keep hearing about how we all need to achieve greater balance in life, spirit and business. Balance, we are told, will make us healthier. It will make us happier. Luckily there are many choices available to find greater balance.
1/ Big insights can live in the balance between ‘why?’ and ‘why not?’ For companies that subscribe to market research’s tendency of investigating only key or target consumer segments, the culture of validating existing methods and new concepts at every step limits innovation. Striking a balance between learning why consumers love you and use you or hate you and don’t use you can be a doorway to both self-discovery and the discovery of ideas that will drive value.
2/ Finding an organizational balance between right-brain employees and left-brain employees is, well, a no brainer. Actually, the ‘finding’ lies in recruiting the right-brainers because, as we all know, business is filled with people whose jobs have nudged them ever closer towards analysis, process, function, exploitation and logic. Intuition, creativity, emotion, empathy and exploration are not the enemy of business. In fact, people with those qualities are exactly what is needed when it comes to developing a culture of innovation. Call HR and let them know.
3/ You’ve got a business. Think of it like a household: a busy operation that requires fiscal responsibility and the completion of daily tasks to keep everything running smoothly. You’ve got a brand. Think of it like a child, the most precious presence in the household that you must nurture, protect and raise to fulfill their best in life. Like a good parent, remember that every decision you make for the household will impact the child. Balancing these two responsibilities requires that you act on the child’s behalf first. If not, the future of your line will be in jeopardy.
4/ If you have finally realized the value of human-centric design and want to strike a greater organizational balance in that direction, start with language by taking a lesson from US retail giant Target. In talking about the humans that purchase their products, Target doesn’t refer to ‘consumers’. Instead, they refer to ‘guests’. A guest is more familiar than a consumer, not a stranger. Familiarity breeds the ability to know what people want, need and will buy. Don’t believe the language hype? Google “how language shapes thought.”
5/ As the working day many of us experience continues to expand beyond the eight hours our parents were expected to put in and bleeds into the weekend, so too do the number of business blurbs on work-life balance grow in the media. For those of us addicted to reading them in hopes of finding a secret formula, maybe it’s time to throw in the towel and heed the words of former GE CEO, Jack Welch: “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.”
This post is adapted from an article that appears in MISC Winter 2014, The Balance Issue