Why Time

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Contemplating Innovation


Its a sunny Tuesday, just helped a new entrepreneur launch a new national company. It always gives me great pride when I can be a part of kick starting an entrepreneur. To witness their confidence and willingness to move forward and take action. The only thing that holds us back from doing what it is that we want to do is us, so get out of your way and allow the things that you want most to happen. I am currently preparing for an innovation talk to an inspired group of 88 of Hamilton and Burlington's elite business executives. There is certainly a great deal of discussion and buzz around this topic innovation. Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of working with one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world helping their senior Canadian team get more innovative. I found the more and more I focused on each individual helping them realize their full potential the more innovative and creative they became. Here is thing, you can't commit to becoming an outstanding company until you commit to becoming an outstanding individual.


A interesting series of events this week, I was asked by a $25 million construction company (relatively small considering I am used to working with $500 million dollar companies) to help build their business development approach and team. As a Creative Coach, nothing gives me more pride than being a part of a team's growth strategy. As I spent more time with the senior executives of this company I realized that they were lacking a dedicated focus on cultivating new client relationships. They approach new business simply as a means to 'get more money' versus establishing value with their clients. The more I attempted to educate this group as to how successful companies innovate and grow with this philosophy guiding their actions, the more resistance I seemed to receive from this team. There is no question that they are pretty good builders, however, their new goal focused on growth is one that they have never experienced to date. The need for a more strategic way of approaching Business Development as a means of cultivating value within the eyes of their clients is foreign to them. I was quite surprised to learn that the owners felt I may be to over qualified as their head of business development. Why would you not want to have the best team leading your new business development activities? Why would you not want your marketing and presentation collateral be the best it can be? Why would you settle for lower quality simply because you don't understand it? A true sign of leadership is focused on collaboration and surrounding yourself with outstanding people.

The CEO of IBM quotes, "the way you will thrive in this new environment is by innovating in technologies and business approaches". You may have been successful up to this point in your way of marking and winning new clients, however, you must understand that the markets have changed so to have the buying habits of consumers and your customers. It is even more crucial than ever to demonstrate the value to offer to your customers.

I'm not sure the direction that this construction company will take? They have been handed a 'jewel' that can help them navigate through this sea of change and help chart new paths towards opening new client relationships. Will they embrace this approach even in the presence of fear and the unknown? Or will they simply continue doing business the same way over and over again expecting to receive new results? Sadly I think it will be the latter as they have conditioned their minds at this level. To become truly innovative you must challenge convention and approach business in a profoundly different way.

Leadership is about standing for a cause. Its about being Best in the World at what you do. The cream always rises to the top, the best ones always come to light and the great ones can never be held back!

As I continue to finalize my innovation presentation this afternoon I will visualize an inspired audience fully engaged and their minds open to fresh principles. They will be inspired to take action and form a series of really good habits that will help them stand out and achieve greatness. I will see the light bulb going off in the audience on top of several minds and witness their smile as they feverishly write down action statements.