Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Innovation is ... [Insert Phrase Here]

... a good way to get fired.

The chief contrarian. 

Somewhere I was reading what it meant to be a CEO and what your role entailed. One of the items that set out for me was this. Your role as a CEO is to always be on the other side. So, when your team is up and excited about a big success, you have to be pulling the team down to level. And, just the same, when your team is down, it is your role to be up and seeing positive in a big failure.

It struck me as a rather lonely place. 

But, I get it. 

As a firm with 12 years and hundreds of clients in experience, we've been able to observe leadership, teams, cultures and see the inner workings of many of our country's largest brands. 

We've noticed sometimes the CEO takes this Chief Contrarian role, other times its outsourced. Outsourced to someone we often refer to a virus in an organization. You know the person, they come in, make a ton of change, everyone HATES them, but they do something no one else was willing to do. 

Then, like any virus organism, the body (company) spits this individual out. 

Also a lonely role.

Enough on the preamble, the second in our series on the values of innovation. 

- Contrarianism
1. Saying it, okay, put it into behaviors and now you’re fired.
2. Be a champion, for something worth championing.
3. Do you just believe, or is it something else?
4. Caring for your words, support them visually and use them deliberately

The word Innovation has its roots in "change or to renew." This is interesting because most human beings are not fond of change. Just watch "The Biggest Loser" and you can see how hard we fight against change in our lives. This applies to large organizations as they are designed to "manage" growth and improve revenue. This management often comes out in reducing the risk it requires to make the revenue investors expect. 

So, innovation goes completely against what the organization was built to do. How many times have you heard someone say something and you just know they are giving the idea "lip service?" Too many times for me. It is an easy word to say, Innovation. But actions often result in risks. Hence, looking from the outside, we like to observe those who say the word "innovation" and compare them to people who do "innovation." These people are hard to find inside organizations, because just as you notice it them, they are gone. 

So, if you're that type of person, and you know who you are, please contact us because we'd like to get to know more about what makes you a contrarian. We would expect a fair number of contrarians to show up at the Future Trends event in Miami next week. 

We look forward to seeing you there.

Chief Contrarian

1 comment:

Rohn Jay Miller said...

Well put, Aaron. I was the "virus" at Knight Ridder Newspapers for 3 years and then was spit out after ripping online newspaper platforms away from 32 publishers and building a single, integrated platform (still in use nine years later, which says more about depreciation decisions in newspapers than about my ability to lead innovation)

I think agencies are often chosen because they feel comfortable, rather than being about the business of irritation and innovation. See my post on that here:

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