We are constantly bombarded with the latest “innovation” stories from Silicon Valley tech startups. Almost never do we hear the stories of amazingly innovative non-profits – but trust me they do exist. As in business, sometimes innovation initiatives succeed but sometimes they miss the mark. How organizations chose to accept and learn from those failures can dramatically influence their future success. They are not just attempting to launch new initiatives, they are creating a culture of innovation.
I am frequently an advocate for the benefits of children playing video games. I realize that I am somewhat of an outlier but watching my children play I have seen them building real world skills like logical thinking and problem solving. Occasionally I will hear their pangs of frustration but I appreciate watching them strengthen their resolve as they work to overcome a task and complete an adventure. Admittedly there can be many challenges too but for the most part I see the positives outweighing the negatives. Until this weekend, I hadn’t really understood a negative impact of one particular type of game – the Kinect Sports games.
The Olympics always bring out the competitive spirit in me. I find my heart racing along with the athletes as they put their lifetime of training to the test for their shot at Olympic glory. For some the difference between a gold medal and despair can be as little as a few hundredths of a second. After this week’s tie for the gold medal in Women’s downhill skiing, a first in Olympic Alpine skiing history, many were suggesting that they needed to start measuring times in the thousandths of a second. Swiss watchmaker Omega has been measuring Olympic time since 1932 and claims that their technology can be accurate to the millionth of a second but the level of accuracy for each sport is determined by the corresponding federation. Whatever the measure of time, success or failure for each of these athletes can come down to the slightest nuance during their final performance.
With a new year brings the annual cycle of personal New Year’s resolutions. Frequently these resolutions include losing weight, reading more, spending less, or getting more involved. Many of us want to change from our current course to something that is more desirable but statistically 88% of the time we will fail at our resolutions. Oftentimes failure comes early in that we say we want to make changes but we never even take the first step.
Earlier this week I was presenting in front of a group of successful entrepreneurs, each of whom had built a business from scratch and turned it into a $10m+ company. As they talked about their businesses you could see the passion for their company oozing out of their pores. They had “made it” by almost every definition of the word but you could tell that their entrepreneurial spirit hadn’t waned. Their success had afforded them more control over their time but they certainly weren’t resting on their laurels. They were passionate about growing their businesses. This post is my first in a series on Leadership in Small Companies vs. Big Companies and covers how small companies can be more focused on hiring for passion.
Last night the Miami Heat absolutely destroyed a San Antonio Spurs team that looked like they shouldn’t have even been on the court. Maybe that’s because according to all of the preseason stats and punditry it should have been the Los Angeles Lakers? But when the Lakers lost to the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs their season ended. In sports, as in business, the best laid plans don’t always work out as expected.
My article titled To Succeed in Business, Act Like a Child got published on The Washington Post – On Small Business Blog today. In the article I describe how if we want to encourage innovation in business we should follow the examples set by our children with their creativity, ambition, and fearlessness. As we get older we lose our tolerance for risk-taking and failure. We become conditioned to mitigate risks to preserve our wealth and egos. But there are ways that business leaders can promote risk-taking and failure: 1) intentionally hiring risk-takers, 2) creating policies that retain innovators, 3) purposely addressing risk-taking and failure, and 4) demonstrating transparency.
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