Over the last year I have done several posts on the importance of mentorship and I am continually surprised by the feedback of how few organizations are investing in a formal mentorship program. In my work driving innovation and new business development I have always found mentorship to be a critical element for success. Today, I published a piece in the entrepreneur and small business publication Under30CEO on the importance of mentorship in driving innovation work. The article focuses on how mentorship can help drive better innovation results, build stronger innovation leaders, and retain the institutional knowledge gained while driving innovation. I conclude the article with 6 elements that I have found to be vital for a successful innovation mentorship program.
Everyone credits Steve Jobs for the success of Apple but where would Apple be without their “failed” former CEO John Sculley who had to oust Steve Jobs from the company he founded? Not to say that their contributions were both equal but they were both instrumental in shaping Apple for its incredible success. It is well understood that organizations need different types of leaders at different times. Sometimes organizations need a good failure to create the drive that will propel them toward success. And sometimes leaders find their passion within the boiling animosity of working relationships. All of these situations were found with the Steve Jobs vs. John Sculley saga at Apple. So how can we learn from them?
There are few organizations in the world that better understand the importance of learning from our failures than the United States Armed Forces. In fact, every branch of the US military uses an After Action Review (AAR) process to analyze the successes or failures of their missions by examining what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better next time. The AAR is focused on creating a clear comparison of what were the intended results vs. the actual results.
With the dry weather this summer my backyard oak trees seem to have made a premature determination that fall has already arrived. How do I know this? By the amazing proliferation of acorns throughout my yard before August had even arrived. As fast as the acorns could fall the family of gray squirrels was scampering across my yard burying their new found bounty. Although food was abundant the squirrels were making the effort to bury these acorns for their future survival. While snow may come relatively early in Minnesota it wasn’t likely to start falling for at least three months but the squirrels weren’t waiting for even a moment to begin their work.
In early 2007 I was planning to launch my first Failure Forum. The forums were a series of presentations (modeled after TED talks) with an ensuing discussion that were meant to examine internal innovation projects that had been shut down. We sought to understand what had been accomplished with the project, what had we learned from it, and what would we do differently next time. The truth was that many of the innovation projects were modeled after previous work.
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