Category Archives: Leadership

Innovators Don’t Outwork Non-innovators, They Out-think and Out-execute Them

outthink

Ask any person or team who’s ever worked on and delivered a better future about their process and they’ll tell you it was a messy journey; not a straight line. Those of us who’ve been in the trenches know that delivering the future doesn’t happen in a straight line, as most things rarely do, yet most people want to believe there’s a silver bullet prescription, secret, hack, tip and the like to follow to avoid the mess that is innovation.

There isn’t one.

Sure, there are methodologies that are growing with popularity every day but following them to the T doesn’t guarantee anything. You might eliminate a few headaches here and there but for the most part their value is in helping you think through things, giving you a sense of security and certainty; not giving you the right answer.

The Real Challenge of Leadership

innovate or die

I’m writing this post for my friend Julio, who I hope takes the leadership challenge head on…

Innovative leaders are cut from a different cloth from traditional ones. It’s why you just can’t assume that giving leaders a set of tools to help their organization innovate will work; it goes deeper than that.

All businesses at some point become addicted to stability, and the people leading the organization become “maintainers of the status quo”; don’t break it or you’ll get fired.

It’s all about avoiding difficult times and enjoying stability.

On the other hand, innovative leaders who push their organization to achieve breakthrough performance know that tough times are inevitable, they just come with the territory.

When You Punish People for Asking Questions They Stop Asking

questions are a way of seeing

Questions invite collaboration and shared responsibility. Great leaders understand that it takes new questions to create a new future, and they’re not necessarily the ones asking those new questions; employees are. Unfortunately, it’s more common that leaders seek answers than questions from employees; blocking their development by resisting new ideas.

To Manage for Innovation is to Manage for Progress not Stability

progress and stability are mutually exclusive

Something extraordinary happened to the human species over the past two centuries: Economic growth transformed everyday life and changed poverty from a near-universal condition to a limited problem. The technologies that enabled this change emerged largely in Western Europe. Why there  and not, say, in China?

The Washington Post explores why the industrial revolution didn’t happen in China in a fascinating interview with economic historian Joel Mokyr.

Want To Hire Innovators? Here’s How You’re Dismissing Them

 Rebels and nonconformists are often the pioneers and designers of change

Most organizations are not setup to hire innovators, rather they filter them out. Why? Because they follow the tried and true solid advice for making good hiring decisions: hire for culture-fit.

To hire for culture-fit is to hire for comfort, the short-term, sameness; to keep optimizing what is rather than creating what’s next. The problem with hiring for culture-fit is that if your culture doesn’t reward risk taking and learning from mistakes then you will filter out innovators.

This is how most organizations work.

Embrace Weird To Find The Next Revolution

Established companies don’t like misfits, renegades, weird people. It’s a fact. I always ask leaders of established businesses if they keep their eyes open for a Steve Jobs to hire; their answer is no.

I’m not surprised. See, most leaders of established businesses are preoccupied with maintaining the status quo, keeping the wheels turning, making sure nothing disrupts their day to day. So, bringing in misfits is out of the question because it means chaos.

Yet chaos is what’s needed to find the next revolution!