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We need to facilitate rather than teach innovation, says Melissa Wong from Mighty Jaxx

Written by Melissa Wong Published on 

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Melissa shares her reflections on how Mighty Jaxx had navigated uncertain times in 2020, and how leaders can help youths to pave way for future innovations.

2020 was wild. The global Covid-19 pandemic has initiated trends, altered one plan too many, but its biggest impact will always be felt as an accelerant.

I want to be in touch with my feelings about where we are now because barely a year ago, we were planning to ride on the momentum of our best year ever and springboard into a new decade of growth.

But things change.

We are now in a very unique situation where we have to maintain an evolving work environment, and some of the most pressing questions I asked myself: How do we sustain the creative, high-performing culture within our various teams that we have painstakingly built over the years if we hardly see each other in person? Can we really keep up the same levels of camaraderie and collaboration with only Slack and Zoom?

Rethinking Safe Spaces For Social and Professional Development 

Working in a creative environment like ours means that our people are working with teams where taking creative risks is encouraged. Our end goal is always to understand its results and how it impacts the creative process.

To adapt, we reconceptualised our creative studio to supplement virtual work. The workplace now includes more informal breakout spaces and collaborative work zones and has essentially now become a resource hub of innovation that is meant to facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas.

We also encourage employees to manage themselves by working on outcomes and deliverables, to actively seek out stable work relationships with people who positively challenge each other like how “iron sharpens iron”.

This is only a workable solution because we have all bought into the belief that increasing employee satisfaction and embracing innovation during the “new normal” will only benefit both the workforce and company in the long run.

Our team in happier, non-social distancing days. Image courtesy of author

Creating Learning Opportunities

As a leader, I believe that if we are not learning new things, we stop ourselves from doing great and useful things. To that extent, I strongly believe that possessing an entrepreneurial streak is more of a mindset that the actual act of starting a business itself.

To encourage the same from our workforce, we give our employees a platform to believe in their own ability, to embrace curiosity in seeking out solutions. For example, we encourage our colleagues to breakout in small teams where they operate autonomously as a network around a specific project, while on a more macro level, we maintain our efficiency by only having one weekly update session for each business pillar where we all contribute to the strategic planning.

Separately, Mighty Jaxx’s Founder and CEO, Jackson, also regularly invites everyone in the organisation to reach out anytime, whether to share / pitch ideas or just simply to chat on one’s own development.

I have also learnt not to be afraid to lean in and do things that are outside of most people’s comfort zones. One great example we try to push for is to regularly review before rotating our team in order to build up their skill sets and add value functionally across the different business pillars.

For me personally, I started out doing sales at Mighty Jaxx before moving to business development and finally operations before taking up the role as COO – something that I appreciate and am thankful for every day, as this allowed me to gain different functional perspectives and depth of thought.

We are also cognisant of making people feel part of any success we have, and internally we use a points system called Bonusly to celebrate each individual’s small wins, personal achievements, work anniversaries or simply thank them for contributing to the success of a project.

As we celebrate our wins together, we embrace our failures equally as well because we know that decision making during failures form a crucial part in one’s development. To that extent, we believe we have a considerable amount of room for trial and error throughout the creative process and regardless of whether a project does well (or not!), we always sit down to evaluate how it could have gone better.

Building For The Future

Take any current trend – social, business, or personal – and envision how different it is now from two years ago, and then what it possibly looks like in five years. Even if your company isn’t living in the year 2030 yet, the pandemic has spurred changes in consumer behaviour and markets.

At Mighty Jaxx, we always believe that creativity is the beating heart of our brand and as technology evolves, our business, like any smart business has to prioritise the potential of youth to help deliver an even better experience for their audience.

As a young company with a predominantly millennial and Gen-Z workforce, we are used to change happening on the go. And we want things to change, because opportunities will always follow.

The pure tenacity of youth and a leader’s decision to put their trust in their ability to embrace and adapt to change will be the competitive advantage of savvy businesses.

An Influence For Life

To sum up, I believe leaders should be aware that as we move into 2021 and beyond, there are also subtle ways we can lend a calm, guiding influence to our future leaders.

It is true that you cannot always control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond.

As leaders, we need to learn to facilitate rather than teach innovation, to help our youth look for and take advantage of the opportunities that inevitably surface when things change.

The young people of tomorrow have an intricately intimate relationship with technology and social applications. They are not just the consumers but also the innovators who will keep paving the way for future innovations.

At Mighty Jaxx, we liberally apply the use of technology to aid in our day-to-day work and it is with the same mindset that we encourage our young workforce to explore opportunities with technology to grow both professionally and personally.

We have got here today by laying solid foundations for what we love, and now the world is truly our oyster.

____

With 8 years of experience in the realm of urban culture and a proven track record in consumer product sales, Melissa Wong has worked with a diverse portfolio of leading brands like New Balance, Casio and Warner Bros. Throughout her career, she has also spearheaded several key initiatives with renowned artists and worked on global campaigns which were very well-received by media outlets across the globe. Melissa currently serves as Chief Operating Officer, overseeing the day-to-day operational functions including sales, marketing, product development, logistics, human resource and customer experience. She is also largely involved in building culture and driving change within the company.

Disclaimer: This article was written by a contributor. All content is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the writer. If you’d like to contribute, you can apply here

WRITTEN BY

Melissa Wong

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