“I’m not looking for the best.” A Director of a publishing company once said this to me after he commented on how his company was looking for a innovation strategist to help them think through, and execute, a project to create the future of their company.
I was numb. My response: I’m not interested in partnering and collaborating with organizations who are not looking for the best. You see, for me Ok-ness is the enemy of greatness.
This came off a bit arrogant on my part. My point was that if you’re not looking for the best possible option, then you are denying yourself the best possible outcome. I’m not saying you should only look for rockstars, just that in times of transformation one should consider them essential. Steve Jobs once said that a small group of A players will run circles around a large group of B and C players; I believe this myself.
Also, you have a problem if you’re thinking about the future of your company and you don’t trust people on the inside to be accountable for creating it. Companies, and the people who lead them, are playing not to lose when they’re Ok with good enough; this is poor leadership.
Leaders who are truly committed to innovation have to shift their mindset from one of playing not to lose to playing to win. This means thinking exponentially, not incrementally. To do so means to stop being afraid of bringing in outsiders who have exponential mindsets; you don’t know how effective this is to catalyze the rest of the company.
There are a few reasons why leaders don’t look for the best:
- They’re looking for people who think and act like them. This is critical for attracting top talent with a growth mindset; the type you want in your organization. The whole point of driving innovation is getting out of your comfort zone. You won’t achieve this by looking for people who think and act like you.
- They don’t want to spend money on game-changers. As I’ve said before, you can’t cost-cut your way to innovation. Talent costs money, so does not having it in your organization.
One of the dumbest things leaders do is hire people who are smarter and more talented than them and then tell them how to do their job. This is very common, and it’s very likely they’re already stopping A players who are already in the organization from speaking out and taking action; this is quite simply stupid.
The people who are entrenched in old beliefs are not the ones most capable of creating the future; precisely because they’re holding on to old ideas. To hire for innovation is to hire for exponentail progress. What you’re looking for is a growth mindset; if you don’t value this you don’t value innovation.
If you’re not looking for the best, you’re looking for good enough; you’re playing not to lose. This is a recipe for disaster. Remember: The people on your team reflect the future of your organization. So if the people on your team don’t have a growth mindset; neither will your organization.
Put simply: Surround yourself with people who aspire to be better. They’re already the best because they have a growth mindset.
Also published on Medium.