I’ve been sitting here bouncing to the sounds of Kid Sheik’s Storyville Ramblers on an old piece of vinyl and realized I have an admission to make. Nothing will kill your business faster than innovation. The record hisses and pops. Two kinds can do you in. Effective innovation by someone else or unfettered, rabid innovation by you. The former will happen no matter what, so you have to react (preferably proactively) and, uh-oh, innovate. The old record only has a few plays left in it. It cackles and hisses, displaying 30 some odd years of use since I picked it up down in New Orleans after seeing the Sheik at some hall in my youth. Funny thing about vinyl, the wear it displays is a reminder of enjoyment past and a reminder that something new is due. Yup, we’ve all got to move on to the next thing sooner or … Continue reading
Flexible Rigidity. Sometimes you need to bend and sometimes you need to stand firm when driving forward. So what can we learn from Buffalo Bill, Gustave Eiffel and Charles Otis about the balancing act we must perform while being torn between these two opposites? Too flexible at the wrong time and you do something you don’t believe in. Too rigid at the wrong time and you’re simply done. These strategies came to a head among many great leaders negotiating the path to fame and fortune by exhibiting at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Everyone who was anyone was at the fair and tempers were flaring. Whistler, (of Whistler’s Mother fame) left the American pavilion with all of his art in tow because he felt arrangements were unacceptable. Edison threw down the gauntlet with his English partner demanding his exhibits be free of charge. Eiffel’s Tower: And the World’s Fair Where … Continue reading
Logic has a peculiar way of boxing you in even as it helps you make great decisions. It leads you down a path, logically, step by step. And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet, knowing how way leads onto way I doubted if I should ever come back Frost – The Road Not Traveled Love this poem. Reminds me that there are Key Decisions in the life of any business or creative endeavor. Once that Key Decision is made many possibilities and opportunities are not presented – not noticed – because they lie elsewhere. Sometimes a leader declares a particular path “Right” and all others “Wrong,” if only to get one foot in front of the other. We know there are other paths, but we follow. The nature of a logic path is that once a … Continue reading
Innovation is a critical survival technique. New strategies, tools, products, technologies are fun to grab hold of. But have you left anyone behind? Customers perhaps? When you’re moving at the speed of light it’s easy to think those who don’t keep up just don’t get ‘it.’ Word processing software is so productive, why do they even make pencils anymore? (We still use about 100 million a year.) Email is fabulous, why phone? (Oops, showing my age. Substitute Twitter) Online listings are always up to date. Why do 19 billion paper catalogs keep showing up in my mailbox? (At least it feels like my mailbox.) Innovation Reality Check. If you are in a dynamic product development environment your eyes might be so focused on the future that you miss opportunities in maturing markets simply because it seems passe’. (Buggy whips anyone?)
The sands are shifting and organizations are having to change. There are 3 ways in which companies are using their employees to do this. Companies that have talented employees who see the difficult and innovative paths that must be taken – and are listening to them. Companies that have talented employees who see the difficult and innovative paths that must be taken – and are silencing them. Companies that had talented employees who saw the difficult and innovative paths that should have been taken. Most companies fall into category 2 and 3. It’s not on purpose. It’s not evil. It’s just human nature. Our habit of catering to past patterns of power ensures that most organizations work this way.