Monday, June 20, 2016

GE's Beth Comstock on Bad News & Innovation

Source:  General Electric
Adam Bryant has a terrific interview with GE Vice Chairwoman Beth Comstock in this week's edition of the New York Times Corner Office column. Comstock has a few gems in this interview. Here's one about inviting bad news:

As you get more senior in your career, people often don’t want to tell you the truth because they want to please, and they want to handle things so that they’re not bringing you just the problems. So a great question I’ve started using is, “Tell me one thing I don’t want to hear. It’s O.K. to give me some bad news. In fact, I want it.” 

Here's another about encouraging innovation:

A large part of your job is to drive innovation...It really comes down to this thought: Permission granted. Having seen so many change situations in my career, change often starts with ourselves. Every company has people who don’t want to change the way things have been done. But often people are looking for an alibi to not try something new. And maybe people themselves aren’t willing to do what’s required to make the change. So the message I try to convey is, you have the permission to try something new. Another way to think of it is don’t wait for the invitation. There are a lot of opportunities to grab. If you see a better way, you have an obligation to do it.