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Do you innovate or Discover? We all lead…What kind of leader are you?

If you have the perseverance to read this article, you will be able to identify which category of person you are. Do you have the mentality of innovation or discovery?

A flyover of the differences between the two are simply understood this way… In innovative ventures, there is the all important rule…and it is this…

“FOLLOW ALL THE RULES”

That’s the code of the innovative organization. You follow the rules, restrictions, and systems, because we believe they’re up-to-date, effective, and correct, and that’s what makes us who we are.

In innovative ventures, obedience is its own reward, is required, and is prized.

Innovators…

Webster says that innovation is, “to make changes, or do something in a new way.” In Non-webster terms I would say it this way. Innovation is to take something old and make it useable in a new way. Innovation is reformation. Innovation is often the act of taking something that worked over there and adapting it, so it works over here in a better way than it worked over there.

Is this a bad thing? No. I’m not opposed to the product that innovation creates, I’m disturbed by what the innovation process does to the innovators.

To innovate something usually requires an attitude of, “needs improvement.” Such an attitude is not necessarily a bad thing. Great leaders have the ability to see what’s not working and make necessary changes. The tricky part is, an attitude of “that needs improvement” is usually preceded by an attitude of “I can do it better.”

It’s very difficult to be humble with an “I can do it better,” attitude, and the frustrating thing is, this naturally breeds arrogance.

There are some common errors that innovators make that create their own demise. The Wall Street Journal recently came up with a list of 5 commons mistakes of Innovators. I will give a brief description of the mistakes and if you want to read the full article you can go to this link and read the details.

http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2011/05/23/five-common-mistakes-business-leaders-make-about-innovation/?mod=google_news_blog

The 5 common errors of Innovators…And I added a sixth.

1. You believe your own numbers and stats. You insist on “seeing the numbers” too soon and all you have to base your numbers on, is your current statistics, compared to your past.

2. The Success Trap. When a company gets success, it easily can focus on what they think is the thing that made them successful. This focus on “what got us here” causes a crowding out of other options, especially from new people that have joined you. This causes success fragility. In their book “In Search of Excellence,” by Peters and Waterman, the authors tell the fate of 43 companies recently leading the world that got caught in this trap. Today only 5 of those 43 companies even exist.

3. Believe they know the competition. The innovative company tends to make huge mistaken identity gaffs when it comes to identifying the competition. Ask the innovative CEO, “Who is your competition?” They will usually reply with the company that is most like them. The problem with this is that history proves that our greatest competitors usually come from a different angle. i.e. Shipping companies suffered from the steam engine, newspapers are in trouble because of the internet, watch companies suffer because of time being displayed on mobile phones.

4. Believe that because everybody had always done it this way, it is the best way of doing the next “new” thing. When America landed on the moon…Innovation built the rocket, the space suits, space food, etc. But innovation is not what Neil Armstrong used when he put his hand on the door hatch and opened the door to outer space to take his first step onto the moon’s surface. That was sheer discovery…no longer could innovation be used. Talk about a humbling moment.

5. Asking the customers for their opinion. The innovative company is really good at answering the questions that their non-customers never ask. The customers have already bought into the company. Why are we asking them what they want? It actually gets worse…Think about it, the company’s leadership team, that has innovated its idea from an old idea, is now sitting around the table making decisions based off of what has been done to try to keep going to next levels.

6. Stop taking real risks. Most innovative companies are led by people who ultimately are not risk takers. There is a difference between risk taking and calculated risk taking. Innovative Leaders are safe “risk” takers. They only take calculated risks with what they understand. The problem with this lies in the fact that if you are the company in the lead…which means nobody has gone before you on this journey…you can’t calculate what to do, because their has been nothing done before you to calculate. There is nothing to do but risk. Companies in the lead usually end up not being in the lead anymore, because the Leader ran out of ideas to innovate.

Innovation is good. Discovery is Great! Let’s break down discovery…
Webster says that Discovery is, “The act of finding or learning something for the first time.”

My heart beats faster, just after reading that definition. You’ve read the headlines…“Her research led to a number of important discoveries. Discovered a talented musician. Voyage of discovery. It was one of the most important discoveries in the history of _____________!”

Discovery!

Think of Lewis and Clark and their expedition of discovery. It required teamwork. It required admitting that they had no clue what they were going to really encounter. Discovery has a knack of showing all involved that they are not in control. Discovery forces all involved to admit this phrase; “I don’t know!” Therefore, discovery creates humility.

Here’s what is exciting to me about the key difference between innovation and discovery. I wrote earlier that Innovation breeds arrogance. What’s evident about discovery, is that it breeds humility.

An arrogant person thrust into an environment of discovery will be forced to become humble. Humility is born and bred in the middle of uncertainty and danger. Opening yourself or your organization to uncertainty and danger creates humility.

Discoverers have to rely on and trust each other. Which team would you rather work on? Innovation or Discovery? In his book, “Good to Great,” Jim Collins differentiates between Levels 1,2,3,4, & 5 leaders. Collins talks about how level 4 leaders and level 5 leaders can produce very similar results, but a key difference between a level 4 leader and a level 5 leader is humility or lack there of. Level 5 leaders always lead through humility. Level 5 leaders tend to lead companies with the reputation for being Discovery oriented. By the way, if you doubt you are a humble leader, then you are humble.

A good example of creating humility through discovery would be taking an innovative person, as described earlier, and put them in the front of a raft as everybody White Water Rafts down some grade 5 rapids. The typical innovative person will have their arrogance washed away (in this case maybe literally). This setting of discovery forces arrogance to morph into humility.

A quick comparison of Discovery and Innovation. Innovation focuses on the outcome and results. Discovery focuses on the cause and the behavior, while on the journey, no matter the end result.

When it comes to discovery, the most important things are not at the end of the Journey, its what develops and shapes along the journey that makes champions.

Discovery is all about the mentality of facilitating the progress and purpose of others. Discovery is fun along the way because of the thrilling unknown yet to be discovered, and it cannot be about you. It has to be about others, especially your teammates. This kind of work environment is thrilling.
The attitude of discovery has no silos among the team. Innovative environments create hierarchies and power pyramids and is led by bosses that control and measure according to a predetermined end result they will strive to achieve at all costs.

Discovery creates circles of people that honor and trust each other’s strengths. This silo-less discovery team, has a leader without a Boss mentality. The buck must stop somewhere, but the buck stops with the one who is the functional leader. A true leader is one who naturally facilitates the purpose and progress of all the others in the circle.

There is no “Boss Mentality” in the circle of discovery. Why? Because when you are out discovering and the “boss” finds himself in quicksand, the boss mode just got stuck. They are now the beggar, and now that they are helpless, depending on how they treated their “subordinates,” they might be left to die and it all be covered up as a tragic accident!

The Innovative Mentality is focused on the orgs final results and goals.

The Discovery Mentality isn’t focused on the organization as much as it focuses on the environment within the organization.

The Discovery Mentality is full of observation towers, not silos. It discovers from its own customer but is overloaded with interaction with the lives of others outside its own company…a team on discovery!

A company of discovery never polls its own, only interacts. You can’t poll something that is yet to be discovered and so the company of discovery is full of trial and error.

It has a culture of discovery and grace. How many times did Abe Lincoln fail? How many times did Albert Einstein fail? With unknowns around every corner, discovery keeps you and the team humble. It has a great sense of humor and often laughs at itself. It has a mentality of meshing and sharing with others. It has a trust in every individual in the company to utilize and expand on their own personal expertise and strengths. Team and Trust are a must in Discovery Companies. The company of discovery has an attitude of servant-hood and adventure and considers others better than self.
There is a fine line here. Its complex. Discovery companies will innovate because they didn’t have arrogance to breed from. Innovative companies rarely discover because they started with an attitude of arrogance.

My simple question is…which company do you want be a part of? Here’s what is awesome about companies of discovery. They never end. They continue to discover and adapt and discover into the future.

Companies of innovation sooner or later celebrate among themselves how they achieved their final result, they celebrate their first place status, because…they nailed their ultimate goal! Hip Hip Hooray….Hip Hip Hooray. Its at this Hip-Hip-Hooray staff meeting where they unknowingly signed the slow-death certificate. Innovative companies, in first place, have nothing left to innovate on, and these are the companies people talk about when they think back at what used to be amazing.

Innovation routes always have dead ends. Yep, I said it, always. Discovery routes may have cul-de-sacs, but cul-de-sacs and dead ends are very different, and it is measured out in arrogance or humility.

I by no means am an expert in this. I’m simply on a discovery journey.  I am thinking out loud.  I’d enjoy your comments and thoughts.  I’m still discovering what really works for me and its an adventure that is quite thrilling and very humbling.


During my Elders Meeting today…Renner Family Transitions…

Over the last 5 years the Renner Fam has had some head spinning life transitions take place from Arizona to Florida and back to AZ again. These 5 years have given me the ability to encounter many different types of leaders, staff, church members, and leadership teams. It is astonishing to me how different each one of these experiences have been.
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My most recent is my accepting the lead pastor role with CCFH = Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills. Earlier today, I sat in my 4th meeting with the CCFH Elders, and I am simply blown away at their love, camaraderie, and Kingdom mentality. As I post these thoughts, 7 hours after the meeting, I am still reeling with a heart that is full, and am so encouraged. This kind of team is what I’ve been looking for since the Parkway days.

I’m experienced enough to know it will not always be easy…but the foundation that the Founding Pastor, Don Lawrence has built over the last 32 years has created a church, a staff, and an Elder Board that is humble, hungry for Kingdom growth, and has strong spiritual, social, and emotional health. I ask for your prayers as this journey continues. If you don’t live in Fountain Hills…make the time someday to come out on a Sunday, visit CCFH, and say hello to me! If you live in FH, then it’s a no brainer, come to Church! 🙂 I’d love to see you and introduce you to an unbelievable Church called CCFH. I am grateful and will hit the hay tonight with a full heart.grateful


March Madness! 7 Ways Basketball is like Life…

elite basketball

I love March Madness!  I love the game of basketball, but you’ll rarely see me taking the time to watch any games unless it’s my kid’s games or it’s officially March Madness!  March Madness is when the phrase “Game On!” truly incarnates into the 10 young men that step on the NCAA basketball floors all over the USA.  It is the time of year when the Elite players gather in 5’s and live out other vital phrases such as, “Give it your all!” — “No Regrets!” — “No Retreat!” — “Bring it!” — “No do-overs!” — “Go Big or Go Home!” — “Do or Die!”.

With that…it seems Basketball and life have a lot of parallels.  Here are 7.  I’m sure there are more.  If you have another one, write it in the comments section!

Here you go…7 things about March Madness Basketball that relate to real life…

1.  I play better relaxed. 

In life, when I’m frustrated, I live horribly. When relaxed I focus on wise and pro-active choices. When frustrated I tend to argue and fight and that just rarely ends in productivity.

2.  The measure between in-bounds and out-of-bounds is the difference between ASSERTIVE and AGGRESSIVE.

Assertive actions are focused on what is necessary towards what you want. Aggression clouds my focus and causes fouls from a heavy hand. Assertive behavior leads to goals achieved. Aggressive behavior causes pain and harm.

3.  Practice does = Permanent.

Work hard and smart because we all know it will be worth it.  Find what works and repeat until it doesn’t work anymore.  Practice…a lot.

4.  Good Self Esteem = Good Performance.  Performance does NOT = Self Esteem. 

5.  It’s a TEAM game. 

You can’t win basketball or life on your own.  Many Christians mistake the passage of Philippians 4:13 as a passage that means you can do everything on your own.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me.”  Most people stop with that verse…but verse 14 says, “yet it was good of you to help me.”  

There’s a lot of arguing going on about this in our culture from prominent people such as Barack Obama, Michael Jordan and others.  Somebody told Michael Jordan that there is no “I” in team…His reply was, “But there is in “Win.”  🙂  Makes me smile, but it’s just not true.  Some have discovered that there is actually an “i” found in the word “team.”  See pic below to figure it out yourself.

The-I-in-Team1

My spiritual gift of immaturity causes me to laugh and shake my head at that pictorial proof that there is on occasion “i” in team.

6.  You have to score to win.

Basketball is like life because it is vital to set goals and be assertive in pursuing them.  It is important to understand that great goal achievement in basketball is at between the 50% – 60% success rate.  And…basketball is like life in the fact…The tougher the shot/goal the more satisfaction there is in attempting it and scoring it! Man…some goals can just make the crowd go crazy!!

7.  You cannot hold on to your mistakes for long…

So…you gave the ball away.  You missed a crucial shot.  You tripped and looked silly in the moment.  LET IT GO!  The game of basketball and life is fast.  It moves on with or without you.  Dropping our heads to pout will only be another error.  The best players in the world miss 50% of their 2 pointers and nearly 70% of their 3 pointers.

Philippians 3:13 says, “But one thing I do…forget (let it go) the past and strain (assertive) to what lies ahead.”  

 

Basketball and Life do have a lot of similarities.  There are others…I’ll leave it up to you to add them to the comments section if you’d like.  We could brainstorm many other parallels with basketball and life… Boundaries. Refs. Coaches. Racing the Clock. Strategic plays. Momentum. There’s always a crowd watching. Retaliators get called for the foul. Locker Room talk. Having the right shoes. Dunking! Having the right players on the team.  Making the Cut. Rest and Recovery. Shirts and Skins…etc. etc.

Let’s get our game on!

 


Having Done in Room 1501 (Wk 10) No Looking Back!

JCS Crest 2014

 

 

Room 1501 pic

 

I can’t believe I just completed week 10 at Joy Christian High School as a first year professional teacher.  I love Room 1501 and even more the students that darken its door everyday.  I am still “taking notes”, and “the jury is still out” in regards to me speaking about the differences between being a Bible Teacher in a teaching profession, and being a Senior Pastor of a large and growing Church.  Having now done both…I’m having fun comparing the two.  One little thing I’m noticing, which I will blog about in the future…is that whether I am teaching in a classroom setting, leading my mission org called Return Hope International, or being a Senior Pastor of a Church on some street corner….they are all the Church.

I believe our Christian culture has done a huge disservice to the work of the Lord

by compartmentalizing Jesus’s bride.  

What do I mean?  We have mission orgs, Christian schools, other Jesus centered industries, but for some reason we only call the building on the street corner The Church.  I don’t want to get off track as to what this blog post’s purpose is, but the day is coming soon where I will blog about this huge disservice.  The Church is way bigger than what we have dismantled it to be by compartmentalizing it the way we have.  Sadly, we as the Church are the ones who have done the compartmentalizing.  We must change this.  (Another blog, another time.)

So on this week 10...I only want to blog about one day of it…and it was actually something that did NOT happen in Room 1501, but in the Library of Joy Christian School at 7am on Wednesday.

Wednesdays at JCS are not only chapel days for our whole school, but they are also Staff Devotion day for the JCS Staff.  I have been asked to lead these devotions and I consider it a huge honor.  I am very grateful for the trust and acceptance that the Joy Administration and the Joy Teaching Staff have entrusted to me.  I will never take it for granted and I always look forward to Wednesdays.

Week 10’s devotion was only a half devotion due to the fact that Scott Brown, JCS’s Executive Direction, asked if he could have 15 minutes to speak to the whole staff.  I think Christ-like character is displayed when the boss asks instead of tells.  When Scott asked to have the 15 minutes, he could have just told me, but he asked.  I love to follow this kind of leader.  If you are reading this blog, I ask you to lift the Administrative Staff up in prayer as they make tough decisions to lead Joy into the future.  It is not an easy task and they need our prayer and support.

Today’s blog is not focused on what I said on Wednesday at the devo, but what Scott Brown said in his 15 minutes immediately after the devotion.

Before I blog about his 15 minutes, I think it is apropos to first take a look at some phrases I wrote down at All Staff Training Day back on June 30, 2014, before JCS school officially started.  So…back on that June 30th training day…

Scott said,“It’s time to change the conversation.”  

He also said, “Be terrible at looking backwards.”

So, this past Wednesday was a refresher, on those two phrases and others, that we as Joy Christian School staff all agreed on when we signed up to accept the teaching and administrative positions we were offered.

Scott, taking the time to remind us of our commitment to keep Joy moving forward with positive change and growing academics at JCS, is the mark of a strong leader prodding our team to stay in alignment.  He challenged us to focus on the positive, to think about the things that are admirable and to work extra hard to keep focused on what the main mission is at Joy Christian School… “Building Christian Leaders.”  He talked about how we will fail in attempting to accomplish that mission if each one of us do not keep our eyes on Jesus, and check our actions to make sure they are matching Jesus’s.  I know all of the JCS leadership and teaching team agree that we want Joy to move forward with great success in its mission.  I think it is headed in that great direction and it will take many other challenges from our leader and each other to keep the focus on that forward movement.

What was amazing to me about this past Wednesday’s devotion, which was split up into two 15 minute segments, is that the theme was the same and Scott Brown and I didn’t plan it that way.  It’s amazing to me how God knits things together.  Before Scott stepped up to re-challenge us all, I read the passage in Scripture that Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4-8.

“4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

I hope that passage impacts you as much as it does me.  I like to say, “You and I will find what we are looking for.”  What does that mean? It means that if you want to find negative about JCS, you can go looking for it and I know you will find it.  The same can be said for your part in your marriage, your work, your attitude, your life.  If I want to find negative about any one or all of those in your life…if I look and start asking around….I will find it.  It is a fact that you and I will find what we are looking for.

So…let’s look for the positive…I know we will find it too!

If you totally focused on the Scripture passage above throughout the rest of this week…I’ll bet you find yourself having a great week.  In fact, I don’t think you’ll find a great week.  I don’t think great weeks are found…they are made.

So, as a very dear friend to me often says…

“MAKE IT A GREAT WEEK!”  

Great days/weeks are made, not found.  And I think it’s all about attitude and focus on the good that is happening all around us.  I pray that your week is a great one and that you will make great decisions that lead to more Christ-like unity and impact.  I’m trying to do my part and I’m always looking for others who are contributing to the great as well.

 

 


Innovation vs. Discovery (Part 1 of 2)


Are you a person of INNOVATION or a person of DISCOVERY?
They are similar yet very different.

I have been in multiple meetings and have been asking some questions about people’s perceptions of me and of our whole organization. I have had much discussion in the past year of my life about perceptions. People’s perceptions are people’s reality. People’s reality tends to be their truth. People’s first impression of you might be false, but it will be their truth about you. How people perceive you is more crucial than you might like to admit. What are you doing about how people perceive you? How do people perceive you? I want to talk about two popular kinds of American leadership styles that influence how people perceive us. The two styles I want to talk about are the all too famous spirit of Innovation style and compare it to the a style I am in favor of, the spirit of Discovery style.

Please understand that innovation and discovery are strengths and each is important and good. Innovation and Discovery are strengths and attitudes that have a place in society. I am in the people influencing business (Aren’t we all in the people influencing business?”) So I am confident that the spirit of discovery creates more success than the spirit of innovation. This article is long and I hope you can journey with me through this thought process. If, I believe that Discovery is more success oriented than innovation, you must know by now that this article will take a leaning towards being a bit critical towards innovation. If you differ with me in this I would be glad to hear your comments.

In order for you to answer the question as to whether or not you are bent more for innovation or discovery you will have to understand each concept well. I am no expert on the two, but I have taken the time to thoroughly think and study these topics and I hope you can learn from my gleanings.

The Spirit of Innovation
Let’s start by going “Old School” and see what Webster says innovation is. I had to blow the dust off the top of my dictionary sitting on my dusty bookshelf. The dust reminded me to be deeply thankful for the internet. Webster says that innovation is, “to make changes, or do something in a new way.” In Non-webster terms I would say it this way. Innovation is to take something old and make it useable in a new way. Innovation is reformation. Innovation is often the act of taking something that worked over there and using it over here
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Innovation is doing something old in a new way. Innovation is a new and improved way. So far, innovation sounds like a great style. I’m not opposed to the product that innovation creates, I’m nervous about what the spirit of innovation actually does to the innovators. When a group of people innovate something, they become very loyal to the newly innovated product. (By product I mean anything they created. It could be a philosophy, it could be a method of leadership, it could be a brand, or it could be an actual usable product.) This loyalty to the newly innovated product causes the innovator to love what they have innovated. Why? Because they innovated it. It is theirs. They understand it, they helped build it. They sat in the room as the innovation was being argued about. THEY argued about it. It makes sense to them and to the organization that innovated. To the people of the organization, this innovation doesn’t do anything wrong. What it does is the best it could do under the circumstances. Someone who knew what you know would make the very same decision, because under the same circumstances it was the only/best option. So they innovated and they love their newly innovated product.

So…of course, the world should buy from them or commit to them and their product. They innovated, which makes them think they did it better. If they think they did it better they also think they DO it better. They innovated. Innovation is good…Right? That’s a brief explanation of innovation. In short, innovation is to take something old and reform it into something, in your opinion, that is better.

There is a dire side to innovation. Once innovation actually happens, the innovator naturally thinks their innovation is exceptional. It’s human nature to think this way. The innovator loves their new innovation. Once they believe in it, as exceptional, it is almost impossible to innovate again. Why? Because innovation is making something work better. For an innovator to re-innovate is to admit that whatever they first innovated is now needing improvement. Remember, to innovate is to take something and make it better.

When an innovator has total buy-in towards their innovation and it begins to not be as successful as they wished, they will naturally say, “not fair.” No innovator ever wants to admit that their innovation is no longer working. When they believe their innovation is good they will no longer innovate because it’s too hard on the ego. No innovator wants to admit that their innovation needs innovated.

Another problem with innovation is that anything innovated is really not new. It has a façade of new. But it’s not new. Grocery Store shelves are labeled with bright new advertising screaming their message “new and improved.” However, in reality, it’s the same old product with a small tweak, but is marketed as innovated/new. Is it really new?

To innovate something is to think with an attitude of, “needs improvement.” Such an attitude is not necessarily a bad thing. Great leaders have the ability to see what’s not working and so whatever is necessary to make it work. What I’m focusing on as I compare the spirit of innovation to the spirit of discovery, is attitude and motive. An attitude of “that needs improvement” is usually preceded by an attitude of “I can do it better.” It’s very difficult to have an “I can do it better attitude” and not be perceived as arrogant.
The person who think they can do something better naturally must criticize whatever they they think should be better. It’s nearly impossible to do this without being perceived as arrogant. The innovator may not actually be arrogant, but is perceived as arrogant. Remember earlier when I said, “People’s perception is their reality and truth.” So, the reality is that the spirit of innovation breeds arrogance. Innovation doesn’t lead to arrogance. I said, breeds arrogance. To breed arrogance you need arrogance to start with. Innovation breeds arrogance. Arrogance innovates and breeds more arrogance. I can’t help but think back to the old movie “Gremlins” and how the arrogant ones just kept breeding. “Just add water!” There are some common errors that innovators make that create their own demise. The Wall Street Journal recently came up with a list of 5 commons mistakes of Innovators. I will give a brief description of the mistakes and if you want to read the full article you can go to HYPERLINK “http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2011/05/23/five-common-mistakes-business-leaders-make-about-innovation/?mod=google_news_blog” http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2011/05/23/five-common-mistakes-business-leaders-make-about-innovation/?mod=google_news_blog

The five common errors of Innovators…And I added a number 6.
1. You believe your own numbers. You insist on “seeing the numbers” too soon and all you have to base your numbers, is your past statistics. Remember that innovation is really not creating something new it is simply taking something old and making something that you think is better. Having a mentality that numbers are the most important thing creates a leadership mindset that RESULTS matter most. I said earlier that I am in the people influencing business. To be more specific, I am a Christian Pastor. Anytime in the Bible that Men/People focused on the results is when that man caused great damage. Innovation plays this dangerous game because it tends to focus too much on results instead of the more important focus of CAUSE which I will share in the discovery section.
2. The Success Trap. When a company gets financial success because it got very good at what it does, it begins to focus on the thing that made it successful. This focus on “what got us here” causes a crowding out of other options and points of view. This might bring immediate further success, but in our culture of fast change, it is only a matter of time before the innovative company gets trapped in the one thing they do so well. Getting trapped also means narrowly focusing on that one thing usually ending in all the eggs getting put in one basket. This causes success fragility. This usually happens to very large successful companies and their death is a frustratingly slow and agonizing death. I believe in our culture of fast pace and change…the slow death isn’t even reality. The company that gets stuck in the success trap has a vividly fast way of becoming obsolete. In fact, in his book “In Search of Excellence,” by Peters and Waterman, the authors tell the fate of 43 companies recently leading the world that got caught in this trap. Today only 5 of those 43 companies even exist.
3. Believe they know the competition. The innovative company makes a huge mistaken identity gaff when it comes to identifying the competition. Ask your innovative companies CEO, “Who is your competition?” They will usually reply with the company that is most like them. The problem with this is that history proves that our greatest competitors usually come from a different angle. i.e. Shipping companies suffered from the steam engine, newspapers are in trouble because of the internet, watch companies suffer because of time being displayed on mobile phones. In my opinion, Innovative companies get so caught up in the love of themselves that their greatest competitor is also their greatest enemy…themselves! Most wives know this of their husbands. A husband’s greatest enemy is usually himself.
4. Believe that because everybody had always done it this way, it is the best way of doing the next “new” thing. This is my greatest problem with innovative companies. They think they are on to something “new” but in reality the definition of innovation is making something new from something old. So it’s not really new, right? It’s just innovated and feels new. This is a huge problem for companies who are trying to innovate into uncharted territory. I have been in the leadership of a very successful church. In fact, this church has seen so much success that for them to go to new levels means they have no examples to follow in this American Culture. There is nothing to innovate on. If they think innovating is going to take them to the next level, they are never going to get to the next level. For instance, when America landed on the moon. Innovation built the rocket, the space suits, space food, etc. But innovation is not what Neil Armstrong could build off of when he put his hand on the door hatch and opened the door to outer space and took his first step onto the moon’s surface. That was sheer discovery. You can’t innovate that. It had never been done before! When your company is leading the way, and you choose to move forward through innovation, then you have just signed your contract that says you are guaranteed to no longer be in first place. Maybe even just signed your death certificate. Your company, if its leading the way, has to be in the Discovery mentality to go to the next level because there is nothing to innovate off of.
5. Asking the customers for their opinions. The innovative company is really good at answering the questions that their non-customers are NOT asking. The customers have already bought into the company. Why are we asking them what they want? It actually gets worse…Think about it, the company’s leadership team, that has innovated its idea from an old idea, is now sitting around the table making decisions based off of what has been done to try to keep going to next level. This company starts making decisions based off of keeping the already reached customers happy while there are new and unreached people waiting to be “Discovered!” This is innovation’s greatest downfall. Once you innovate something, your own human nature won’t let you innovate anymore because the team would have to admit that their innovated idea “used” to be a good innovation. Meaning its failing now. An innovative company never wants to admit that its innovated product no longer works. To not admit failure is pride and arrogance. “Pride comes before the fall.” Bottom line…Innovation works really hard to appear right, regardless of the actual results that are taking place. It is fascinating to me that innovation is all focused on results, but even when the results are headed in the downward trajectory, the innovator would rather believe the lie that things are okay instead of admit that the innovation they created no longer is working. “Every bad idea, used to be a good idea!” Innovation…it’s a vicious cycle.
6. Stop taking ultimate risks. This sixth point is my opinion. Most innovative companies are led by people who ultimately ARE NOT what could be defined as risk takers. There is a difference between risk taking and calculated risks. Innovative Leaders are “safe risk takers.” They only take calculated risks with what they understand. The problem with this lies in the fact that if you are the company in the lead…which means nobody has gone before you on this journey…you can’t calculate what to do, because their has been nothing done to calculate. There is nothing to do but risk. Companies in the lead usually end up not being in the lead anymore, because the Leader ran out of ideas to innovate from. The company that is top dog begins to focus on how much there is to lose and they begin to settle in on their success and begin to “play it safe.” Its like a Pro football game. The game is close. The winning team has the ball and its just the beginning of the 4th quarter. The offensive coordinator decides to try to protect the lead and thus changes the game plan from, ‘playing to win’ to ‘playing not to lose.’ What usually happens when that game plan is employed? Its called an upset. The team that was in the lead should not have started playing not to lose. They should have kept playing to win. A company that is leading the world in their field has nothing to innovate anymore, and pride to often prevents this leading company from innovating on itself. This company now is headed into uncharted territory and can no longer innovate. This company can only open themselves up to new learning experiences that will make them feel uncertain at best and incompetent at worst. This is hard for an innovative company to shift into, but it can be done. It usually takes the company leader becoming a total risk taker. Due to the fact that there is nothing to innovate on, the leader must now become like Neil Armstrong and go into the uncharted new! This is the mentality of DISCOVERY, and my next blog post will be about that very issue!


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