What happens when you have a nut with an idea?  Normally, we are “normal”, we act inside the “normal” world, we tend to have ideas, and then almost immediately let the system crush them as impossible, too far-reaching, or the return on investment as too difficult to determine.  We hear naysayers and just stop.  It’s easier to maintain the status quo.
But a nut?  Someone with an idea plus passion and bit of the craziness you need to stand out in the crowd?  Well, those are the ones you want on your team.  Passion can trump knowledge every single time.  But, put knowledge and passion together, and you’ve got a top performer.  Mix passion, knowledge and sense of urgency, and you’ve got a superstar!

On a team, you normally have a Bell Curve of ability.  Some team members are newer and have less experience, some are veterans, some have expertise in a certain field only, and some are generalists.  Which one will stand out?  Assuming an average or above-average level of intelligence, the person with passion and sense of urgency will stand out every time.  Why is that?  It’s because you can’t keep these people down!  They are insatiable in their appetite for knowledge, cannot be held in check when fighting for an edge, and they do not take obstacles as the end of the road.  Obstacles are just new challenges to be conquered!

Who knows which came first, but knowledge, passion, and sense of urgency are usually an infinite and constantly strengthening loop.  These are the people with a spark in their eyes, a smile on their face, and a determination that is infectious and inspiring. Is it possible to build or transform an organization to feel a bit “nutty” about new ideas, innovation, or inspiring the masses to success?  I would suggest the answer is “yes”.  A few steps:
Hire correctly.  If you are in retail, hire waiters and waitresses and teach them about your business.  Anyone who has ever worked for tips understands how to engage the customer.  Engagement means higher tips. Positive behavior is rewarded financially.  Bring that feel into your organization.
Let it be okay to fail once in a while.  Not every idea is going to be successful.  Yes, Thomas Edison found two thousand ways how not to make a light bulb, before he finally hit success.  Ideas germinate, mix with other ideas, and eventually become a telephone, a gas-powered engine, an iPad….
Encourage and reward innovation.  Set up an innovation hotline, text number, or e-mail address, something accessible when not at work.  The best ideas come when you are riding on an airplane, on a two hour train ride, taking a shower.  Yes, your mind is clear and ideas happen.  Let your company know you want every idea at any time.
Reward high achievers differently than the rest.  Yes, we seem to have hit a “normalization” trend in many organizations, where we try to make sure everyone feels great even if they are really not performing.  I would strongly suggest that you are hurting your team when you are not overtly rewarding high achievers.  High achievers crave the recognition, and will ultimately “revert to the mean” if you do not help them stand out in the crowd.  Not everyone is a high achiever, and not everyone should be rewarded at the same level.
Your organization needs “nuts with ideas”.  They are un-stoppable, have an infectious passion for the business, and can rally a crowd around success.  They have that spark in their eyes and can energize the entire team.  Are you a nut with an idea?