Leadership Skills for the Conceptual Age
So what does this look like? I think there's another metaphor here that I really like. You really wanna cultivate, I think that's the right word, cultivate a culture of innovation. It is somewhat like farming, actually. And the ideas are your seeds and the culture is your soil. You can have all the best seeds in the world, you can buy them from the best place in the world, it doesn't matter if your soil isn't fertile and ready and watered and tilled. If it's hard soil the water's gonna run off at the first rain. If it's hot out they're gonna dry up and burn up. So you have to cultivate your culture, be ready for the seeds of innovation. And here are the core drivers from research we have done when I was with Maddock Douglas. Creativity is essential, of course. Collaboration, you can't do innovation without it, nobody gets an idea through the system without being able to engage with others. Tolerance for risk is essential, often ironed out in operative cultures, and truly being in the s...
hoes of your customer, customer focus, having customer empathy. You have to have these four, and then you have to build some infrastructure to support innovation. You have to have budget and research and those functions and a team, a hot team, or whatever it is to actually get it done. And ultimately, leadership has to support it. Innovation can come from the bottom up, but it's usually killed if leadership isn't supportive of it, so having leadership on board, we're gonna take these risks, try these new things and we're gonna be risk tolerant and investing in some of these things in terms of the infrastructure necessary to bring ideas to market are all essential if you're going to cultivate a culture of innovation. But ultimately I will say, what it gets back to is having a tolerance in the mindset mode. If you're a operator leader which you almost for sure are if you're a high level executive in a large company, having tolerance and understanding of the creative visionary mindset and how they work and letting them run with ideas, and waiting to judge them until they've been gathered, just doing that alone can shift the culture overnight. 'cause if people think that my boss is open to my ideas, they will share those ideas and they'll stay. But as we know, people join companies, leave managers. The reason they leave managers because number one write an answer more than 50% of the time, my boss is not open to my ideas. If you quell the creative visionaries, they will shut down and then they'll leave and suddenly you're Blockbuster. So that's how to do it. We're gonna get to Q and A here in a second. First I'll just tee up what's coming next. The next module is Avoiding Innovation Leadership Kryptonite. This is the construct out of Stanford, Carol Dweck, back in the seventies, called it the growth mindset and the fixed mindset, but it's been re-labeled and re-packaged by some excellent thinkers from Stegen and Axelin. Now the labels we use are knower and learner. And the knower and the learner, not that you don't know or you do know, or it's not that don't learn or you don't learn, these are labels that will define, but ultimately the knower mindset and behavior system and leadership set-up is innovation kryptonite. It absolutely kills innovation and the single worst uttered phrase in thousands and millions of companies around the world is "That won't work, we've tried it before." Worst thing you can say, probably in any large business. Even well intended.