Monday, February 16th, 2015
INNOVATION ON THE BRAIN
It seems like there are two classes of companies.
Young, new to the market (five years) relatively small (500 employees top) and burning with an idea or social value that drives the business. Top leaders are usually 35-45 years old.
Then there are the sluggish bewildered giants battling to buy one another.
Huge numbers of employees, a crowded market squeezed for growth and top leaders who are 50 years old and up. They sell a familiar idea and format with the company values determined by the stock price.
The articles on innovation continue to be spit out in abundance.
What is the role of fresh innocent passion that doesn’t know it can’t do what it is doing? I wonder how long this innocent passion can last before size and cost and entrepreneurial exhaustion hit?
What the CEO’s of the giants are passionate about that has to do with the core business, not cost cutting and stock price and heady strategy and over measurement?
How large can a company be and maintain enough freedom for initiative and exploration of ideas? Size seems to create over control and over control seems to kill creativity
Do you as a CEO or top leader know five people in your company who are disruptive with new ideas? Do they come to you to think with you? Do they stimulate you with their ideas? Do you find them irritating? Do you engage with them anyway? (Five is a pathetic number.)
Do you yourself, as a top leader, absolutely yearn to bring something new into being? Will you irritate Board members to do it? Will you plan to make analysts as exited about it as you are? Are you too burdened and tired to gear up for your big idea. Do you tell yourself it can’t be done.
Do you sometimes want to walk away from the size monster that keeps your creativity smothered? Do you want to run a company or get something
important and new done?
Can you grow innovative edges around a moribund industry or does it have to start at the center and work its way through the company killing the old as it goes?
Does innovation have to be disruptive?
Should we just leave innovation to the youngsters knowing they’ll have the same dynamics when they go through middle age and on into dinosaur times?
Do you care enough to talk about these questions with a colleague?
All this reminds me of a book I recommend:
THE END OF POWER: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States,Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be
By Moises Naim