Thursday, 30 March 2017
Very few companies are revolutionary in their thinking. Over the past century we can point to only a few that changed the course of history. I look at the invention of flight; the invention of penicillin and the invention of the internet among these few.
None of these was invented by a company. Rather they were the result of innovative thinking combined with trials and errors that often developed in a laboratory or a garage.
Today’s best leaders are not so much revolutionary in their thinking as they are evolutionary. They have the ability to see not only the value of an invention but also its’ broader application. Here are some obvious examples.
Microsoft did not invent the personal computer. They simply saw ways to integrate a host of different processes on a common platform. Google and Facebook did not invent the internet. They saw ways to use it in ways that made it functional for billions of people. Apple recognized that a cell phone could do more than make a call or receive a text.
In their evolutionary thinking they also recognized that only the strong survive. Microsoft vanquished IBM; Google has out done AOL and Yahoo. Facebook overwhelmed My Space and Apple has become the world’s most valuable company. In each case, the genius was not inventing the tool but in using it. Evolution, not revolution!
What is the implication for you as a leader?
You need to be focused on two primary objectives. The first is to be constantly innovating and evolving. The status quo is not good enough. When the leaders of Nokia faced the press on May 6, 2016 during their final days the CEO said, through his tears ‘…we didn’t do anything wrong…’ Well they didn’t do the right things to innovate and change.
The second, and equally critical objective, is extreme execution. You may have all the innovation in the world but if you fail to execute, you will not survive.
Every day you need to be assessing your company’s performance against these two metrics. What are you doing and how are you doing?
Darwin had it right. The strong survive and dominate because they adapt. They find their place in the pecking order and learn how to dominate in that space.
Will you dominate or become extinct? Your commitment to leadership will make the difference!