By Steve McKinneyPresident, McKinney Consulting, Inc.Clash of IdeasEntrepreneurship is nothing if not about introducing new ideas. It is about introducing ideas, protecting those ideas in their infant stages, executing those ideas, and finally allowing those strong young ideas to cannibalize the weak and old ones the company is still hanging on to.Resistance to new ideas and new things is built into the genetic code of organizations. That resistance grows exponentially as we diversify the company across time, space, and culture. If the company is old, the resistance is more. If the company was very successful in the past…read on …perhaps once a market leader, the resistance is more. If the company is very flat, and listens to people's opinions throughout the organization, the resistance is more. CEOs who can successfully prune future organizations are CEOs who have proven they can surmount the very toughest obstacles there are. It is very difficult to grow a beautiful new flower while the old weed is still firmly rooted in the prime soil. So creatively destructive CEOs practice 'shaping' as a daily task. If there is a solid, undeniable, reason to push something out of the spotlight, it is already too late and competitors are already on the move. The job of creative destruction must take place even when the company is at the heights of success. CEO’s must actively engage in looking for things to kill – even currently successful things. Without that mindset that nothing is sacred, new ideas cannot flourish. Without the willingness to look at yourself the way a competitor would look at you – as a target to be torn down, weak link by weak link, new ideas will always be squashed by the old ones.Some of the problems new ideas face includes:- New products with new technologies compete for attention and talent with the old. Quota-driven sales teams don't want to take risks with new products. They don't want to risk alienating customers who never asked for something new in the first place. They will stick with the old, throw out the new. Tried and true, but now old, products suck the money and air out of anything new and revolutionary. - Fear leads to a dumbing-down of innovative activity. Brand Extension runs amok. There is a clear mislabeling of simple extension of ‘what we’ve already been doing’ as something new and innovative. Not only is it not innovative, but it isn’t any more safe than the original business it is based on. One good bullet will kill the original business and all its extensions, too. Don’t confuse Mission Creep for innovation. - Your best customers say they don’t like your new ideas. The most important asset great companies have is great customers and, so great companies listen to their customers closely. They listen to the market closely. But the market won't bring them the next great idea. A market never asks for revolutions, it just asks for efficiency and effectiveness gains. Car buyers ask for better gas mileage. They don't ask for vertical take-off and landing. Computer buyers ask for faster speed and more stability. They don't ask for artificial intelligence. Moviegoers ask for better special effects and better sound. They don't ask to participate in the movie. When vertical take-off and landing comes, your customers who told you that better gas mileage was 'the thing' are going to hit the road. And the market will have found its new winner. -Analysis Paralysis. Companies don’t invest in new ideas simply because they are new. All of the metrics of modern leadership – Return on Investment, Economic Value Added, etc. are iffy. There are numbers to meet, goals to be accomplished, and CEOs can’t just go throwing money down what could end up as a black-hole. It is the very newness of new ideas, the ambiguity of their nature that makes them hard to pursue. Most companies are just not set up for that. There are, of course, myriad other problems we could discuss, from jealousy and anger over funding going to new projects, to unwillingness for superstars to enter a project where they might fail. So what to do? It is by no means and easy task to be entrepreneurial within the confines of a large and complex organization. A paper on what companies might do to change the situation could be a book, so I’ll just list a few short points. - Reward failure. Promote the right kind of trying by promoting the right kind of failing.- Separate the innovators from the money makers. Create a separate division, a secret one, charged with replacing your winning products before your competition does. Separating them shields them from jealousy and anger.- Judge your innovators by different standards. Imagination, creativity, questions asked and questions answered. Give them carte blanche to challenge the conventional wisdom the company prides itself on currently.- Give innovators a separate but equal path to career progression. Judge them differently, BUT, and this is the key point – make sure they feel equal with the money makers in the organization. If becoming an innovator means losing your ability to ever get promoted, the organization won’t have any innovators. The basic skills needed by our hero CEO are two, courage to seek the truth, and the ability to make others want to embrace it. Truth and simplicity lie at the heart of creative destruction. For self-deception and the complications that naturally cloak every decision the company makes lie at the heart of maintaining the status quo.The history of the future corporations is already being written and it is not the story of cowardly deeds. It is the story of companies who were bold enough to 'let go' and focus only on what 'can be' and not on 'what is'. This is a future of unbounded risk and unbounded reward. Wow. Who has the courage to lead?Steven B. McKinney is the founder and president of McKinney Consulting Inc., who has over 12 years of experience as an Executive Search Consultant & is a Certified Master Coach. He serves on several boards including the American Chamber of Commerce-Korea and was bestowed Honorary Citizen of Seoul in 2007. Prior to the establishment of McKinney Consulting he had over 10 years of senior leadership experience in athletic footwear company giants, Adidas, Reebok and Converse etc.About McKinney Consulting: McKinney Consulting is an executive search firm (sometimes simplified as executive recruiters or headhunters) which has placed hundreds of bi-lingual middle-senior level executives for multinational companies in Korea & Asia and was established in 2001. McKinney Consulting is a member of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC). In addition, McKinney Consulting provides behavioral-based coaching services with scientifically developed tools in coaching executives and businesses to excellence and success. McKinney Consulting coaches are members of the International Coaching Council. Also, McKinney offers Talent Management services such as the outsourcing of candidates and payroll services etc.
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is an executive search firm (sometimes simplified as executive recruiters, or headhunters) which places bi-lingual middle-senior level executives for multinational companies in Korea & Asia.McKinney Consulting also provides coaching services which are behavioral-based with scientifically developed tools in coaching executives and businesses to excellence and success.