Committing to Innovation

I think quite a few people grew up thinking of innovators as heroes – a lone person coming up with a brilliant idea that changes everything. Think Steve Jobs. Think Marie Curie. Or maybe even ‘Doc’ Brown in Back to the Future. Who wouldn’t want to be that person?

A few weeks ago I read a 2019 article about the role LeBron James played in the Cleveland Cavaliers and how developing other players in the team took a backseat to wining. Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers said “With LeBron there was a limited shelf life in terms of his age and his contract commitment. It’s a win now at all costs… It all revolves around the sun, which is him.”

This got me thinking about teams and innovation.

  •  Can a business be innovative if its people aren’t? How about the other way around? I know that to be true – I’ve worked with people whose amazing ideas to improve something have been stymied by company processes and systems.
  • If you build your success around a single person to the detriment of others do you put the future of the team and its success in jeopardy?

I see innovation differently now – no longer as the lone person beavering away to come up with brilliant ideas seemingly out of nowhere, but as the high performing team that consistently challenges what has come before and strives to keep improving. It’s the person and company that commits to innovating.

In the book American Icon, when Alan Mullaly newly appointed CEO (and hopeful saviour) of Ford asks Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s Global Product Chief, why they are not aiming to make each vehicle the best in class, he replies “We never committed to that as a company”.

I see innovation like that. You must commit to being innovative. It is easy to say. It is especially easy for a company to market. But you must commit to doing it. As a person and a company.

Peter Schreuder – Architect, Managing Director

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