How to Seek, Seed, and Scale Innovation

change

The Change Maker’s Playbook

Innovation is dynamic, iterative, and even messy – but with the vast problems facing the world, and opportunities to harness people’s creativity, passion, and desire to make an impact, there has never been greater potential to make a dent in as-yet unsolved economic, social and other issues. Leadership qualities, not always and not simply technology, are the essential ingredients.

I recently spoke with Amy J. Radin, author of The Change Maker’s Playbook: How to Seek, Seed and Scale Innovation in Any Company. Amy is a nationally recognized Fortune 100 Chief Marketing and Information Officer.

 

“Purpose defines what you stand for and why your business exists.” -Amy J. Radin

 

The Power of Purpose

I love this line in your new book: “Purpose defines what you stand for and why your business exists.” Tell us more about the power of purpose and why it’s so important to change makers.

Purpose defines the marketplace problem the change maker wants to solve. It’s why they pursue an innovation.  They see the need to create something new, to fix something they see as really broken.

Purpose is grounded in emotion, but it’s far from touchy-feely. Purpose:

  • Focuses everyone on unifying beliefs, makes collaboration the norm, and aims resources at the vision and nothing else.
  • Minimizes the corrosive effect of internal politics — everyone is committed to the same point on the horizon. Purpose is an energy booster.
  • Sets the goal post on achieving aspirations to meet real market needs. Of course, financial results matter, but the purpose-driven team delivers financial impact and sets itself up to meet broader stakeholder needs.

 

“Purpose means knowing what you stand for, why you want to exist.” -Amy J. Radin

 

Resourcefulness is a key behavior of change makers. How should leaders encourage resourcefulness?

Resourceful leaders are those who can find a path forward no matter what. Doing so means they are making progress even though they have what can look like severe resource shortages.

Much of anyone’s resourcefulness comes from an ability to help everyone in their orbit to be more resourceful.

First, be a role model of resourcefulness behaviors.  My favorite example of all time is one I uncovered while doing the research for The Change Maker’s Playbook: Drew Lakatos co-founded ActiveProtective, a company working on an innovative device – think of it as the wearable equivalent of an inflatable air bag — to attack the growing medical and social crises caused by millions of seniors’ falling every year in this country. He had purpose and passion, but lacked capital.  So, he went around to junkyards one Saturday morning, and extracted non-bloody air bags from wrecked cars. Then he combined these with bicycle tire inner tubes, working with his local tailor to create components of early proof-of-concept designs – for a few dollars apiece. They were convincing enough to win critical support to get to the next steps.

Second, when assessing potential hires, listen for stories of how they have demonstrated resourcefulness in their lives. If you don’t hear evidence of real tenacity, move on.

Third, be open-minded about how things are done, not just what is getting done. Being resourceful means finding and supporting non-obvious ways to accomplish milestones and achieve goals.

 

“Resourceful leaders treat others with respect and value people as people, and as a result inspire and attract others to enable their purpose.” -Amy J. Radin

 

Fourth, promote a culture where seeking help is a mark of leadership and strength, not a sign of weakness. I see organizations where people are afraid that they will be fired if they admit ignorance. I see cultures punishing people who admit they don’t know something or would like help. These are environments where innovation cannot ever be successful.

 

“Resourceful leaders are those who can find a path forward no matter what.” -Amy J. Radin

 

Lessons from Edison

Leadership from the Inside Out

Grow the Whole Person to Grow the Whole Leader

I first read Leadership From the Inside Out years ago. It is one of the books that helps build a foundation of knowledge for leaders. That’s why I was excited to see that it is now out in a new version with updated chapters, new case studies and stories, and even more practical exercises to help everyone achieve their leadership potential.

Author Kevin Cashman is the Global Leader of CEO & Executive Development at Korn Ferry. He has advised thousands of senior leaders across almost every industry.

We recently talked about his updated book and his leadership views.

 

“While spreadsheets are the language of management information, stories are the language of leadership inspiration.” -Kevin Cashman

 

You’re just out with a new version of Leadership From the Inside Out, a classic must-read in leadership circles. What prompted you to update it, and what’s new?

Well, thank you for endorsing it as a “must-read.”  It has been humbling and fulfilling to witness the success of each edition. Twenty years ago, when the first edition came out, it was one of the first books to deeply connect personal growth to leadership effectiveness using timeless, enduring principles of human development. We had been seeing how this “grow the whole person to grow the whole leader” approach resonated in our practice with CEOs, CEO successors and executives, but at that time, there was little or no research on these principles—authenticity, self-awareness, courage, character, purpose—and their impact on results. We did the second edition in 2008 to share new stories and case studies, but also to share some of the mounting research from independent sources that was catching up with what we were seeing in the trenches. For this third edition, we felt compelled to share more abundant recent research, including a study that directly connects top leader self-awareness with organizational financial performance, a study on the results of purpose-driven leadership’s significant impact on financial growth, and more. The book is still framed in areas of mastery, but we’ve added Story Mastery and Coaching Mastery, both taking leaders to deeper levels of awareness to enhance their influence and multiply it. We updated stories and case studies and added and revised exercises and practices to sharpen relevance. This third edition is an even deeper, integrative growth experience.

 

“The Character-driven leader tends to emphasize service over self.” -Kevin Cashman

 

Why Character is Central to Leadership

I’m a passionate believer in character, and your book was early to focus on this aspect of leadership. Would you comment on the centrality of character?

Leading in Character is foundational, or to use your word, “central” to Personal Mastery, which is the ongoing growth of authenticity, courage, and influence that has enduring value. It is at the heart of transformative impact and servant leadership. Both Character and Coping are present in most leadership situations. However, we need to ask ourselves, “Which one is my master, and which one is my servant?”  When we are self-aware and make Character the master of our leadership and Coping the servant, we move toward better relationships with team members, customers, employees, all our stakeholders and the greater marketplace. And, we create more sustainable value. As leaders, it is essential to learn how to build our awareness of when we are being guided by Character and when we are being pushed by Coping. One CEO we worked with in our Chief Executive Institute told us that learning how to pause to make sure that values are on the table and that she and her team were leading with character has really stayed with her and been significant. She developed a systematic process of asking her team for their expert opinions, probing them to explain how they came to that opinion and whatever concerns they had. She explained that when a problem or a crisis comes along “stepping through it is grounding and everyone has the same fact base. It encourages synthesis and congruence with values.” That’s leading with Character and Authenticity.

 

“Purpose elevates teams to move from short-term success to long-term significance.” -Kevin Cashman

 

Meditation and Leadership

Start the Life You’ve Always Wanted Now

Get the Life You’ve Always Wanted

Bob Pritchett is the CEO and founder of Faithlife Corporation, an organization serving 3 million users around the world. His latest book, Start Next Now: How to Get the Life You’ve Always Wanted is a plan to advance your career. It is a short book full of career advice designed for those looking to advance their careers. I met Bob several years ago. He is a purpose-driven leader who wants to make a difference. Recently, I asked Bob about his work and advice.

 

“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” -Dale Carnegie

 

Give Yourself Permission to Explore

You start with a simple question, “What do you want?” but that question is profound and not always easy to answer. What do you recommend to people who don’t know what they want?

Give yourself permission to explore. Read broadly, and set aside time to try new things. Explore things that interest you, things that you enjoy. Many people choose their goals from a distance and spend a lot of time in planning and preparation and education before learning if they really want to do the thing they’ve been preparing for.

Volunteer. Interview people doing things you might want to do. Try job shadowing. Find some way to do or experience the thing you’re exploring and find out if it’s for you.

Don’t be afraid of pursuing the wrong thing; a small investment in a dozen different directions is much less expensive than going all in on the wrong goal.

 

“You don’t get ahead by leaning back; you get ahead by leaning forward.” -Bob Pritchett

 

Raise Your Visibility

What practical steps do you suggest for raising your visibility?

I have several suggestions in the book. One of the easiest is to dress up.

When you dress as casually as your co-workers, you signal that you’re done moving up. It’s a way to fit in and be invisible in the crowd. People who want to get ahead signal that fact to the people who can help them get ahead by dressing the part.

Dress up tomorrow. Just raise the bar one level beyond your norm and be ready for the comments from your peers. If you don’t hear any, keep taking things up a level until you do.

 

“Raise the bar one level beyond the norm.” -Bob Pritchett

 

How does one increase visibility without losing humility or looking self-promotional?

Start Next NowWe cultivate a heart-attitude of humility through a pattern of service to others. If you do work that serves your team, your organization, and your constituency (customers, students, congregants, etc.), people will notice. There’s nothing better for your reputation than being ‘caught in the act’ of generous service.

In your career or organization, though, you still need to be intentional about increasing your visibility, even if it’s in small ways like dressing for your next job or constantly re-introducing yourself or working on projects that people are going to see. In most businesses the products and services need to be marketed, and showing that you can market yourself — while it may earn disapproval from jealous people behind you — can be an important part of signaling that you can handle more responsibility for the business.

 

Confront Fear

What recommendations do you have for “confronting fear”?

Many people are afraid of being exposed as incompetent. But incompetence isn’t anything to be ashamed of. It’s a temporary state of affairs.

 

“Fear is the fence that bounds our success.” -Bob Pritchett

 

If you’re proficient in something today, you were incompetent in it at some point, and you acquired the skills and knowledge you needed to become proficient. We need to stop being ashamed of or afraid of what we don’t know.

Understand that fear is a normal feeling, and get used to appreciating it and then pushing ahead.

 

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