The Innovation Diet
Marshall Goldsmith, author of dozens of books including What Got you Here, Won’t Get You There, once quipped that as popular as his New York Times bestseller became, he would have sold twice as many copies had he figured out how to weave the word diet into the title.
At the first of 20 Vistage Executive Summits, an event series on Leading Innovation that will crisscross the country this year (at which Marshall was one of the speakers), a San Diego audience of 600 CEOs, business owners, and their key executives responded to a number of instant polling questions.
The responses to 2 of the multiple-choice questions were quite fascinating. The first question was: When you think about innovation, what do you think of first? 32% answered, adaptive culture and workforce; 31% said, breakthrough products; 28% said, technology (robotics, AI, internal IT etc.); and only 8% immediately thought of innovation in terms of cutting edge marketing. So it’s pretty clear that the word innovation sparks a wide range of responses.
What people do have clarity about, however, is that if you don’t innovate in every aspect of your business, you won’t stay in business for very long. Mike Richardson, a Vistage Chair and author of the book Wheel$pin, conducted a survey of more than 700 CEOs and business owners of small to mid-sized companies in 2013. Turns out, 81.5% of respondents said their business is likely to be very different 5 years from now than it is today.
Seems like pursuing a status quo strategy, either actively or passively, will just get you run over, and not necessarily by a competitor you know. It could be by a competitor that hasn’t even opened its doors yet. This brings me to a second question polled at the event. When asked what do you worry about most? The competitors you don’t know or the ones you do? 72% said that the biggest threat is likely to come from a brand new competitor – one with a value proposition that could not only hurt their business, but worse yet, render it obsolete.
It aligns nicely with what poet Sekou Andrews offered to open the San Diego event. He challenged the leaders in the room take their top 16 designers, put them in a garage, fill it with Nachos and Dr. Pepper, and charge them with creating the start-up that will put them out of business. (Better for you do it than someone else I suppose.) It could be fitting inspiration for one of Marshall’s future books: The Innovation Diet.