Yesterday, members of the Remarkable Leadership Learning System had the chance to participate in a call with Paul Sloane, international best selling author and expert in both leadership and lateral thinking (here’s his website).
Paul shared a string of fabulous ideas and techniques to help everyone be more effective at both problem solving and innovation. But of all of the things he shared, one thing struck me in such a way that I am still thinking about over 24 hours later.
He said that when striving for innovation, leaders should think like venture capitalists. The more I think about this idea, the more I like it.
Consider what venture capitalists do. They look for good ideas – they look through lots of ideas to find ones they think have a real chance for success. They consider the idea itself, the team, the market and more. And as smart as they are, they know they won’t always guess right. So they back a number of ideas, knowing that some will fail, and hoping that one (or more) hit it big. It is a numbers game where the home runs pay for the failures and much more – giving them a great return on their investment.
Paul suggests that we as leaders should do the same thing. Rather than betting all resources of time, energy and money on one idea (deemed “the best” by themselves or even the group), they fund and support multiple ideas and approaches, knowing that some won’t be successful and others will be wildly so.
This isn’t the approach that most leaders and most organizations take, but when you consider that innovation – whether for new product development, process improvements, a new marketing campaign or whatever – is always a bit of a gamble, this portfolio approach makes sense.
Where does that leave us as leaders?
Consider these five action steps:
- Look for lots of innovative ideas in your area of need.
- “Fund” several with time, energy, money and encouragement.
- Let them grow, watching for winners.
- Be willing to stop efforts that are no longer looking promising (cut your losses).
- Let everyone know that this is your process, so people are clear on expectations and they know that it is about the results of the ideas, and isn’t personal.
This metaphor and these action steps can be of great help to you as you try to lead your team towards an innovative future.
If this idea is intriguing, just think how many ideas and how much growth you would get as a member of the Remarkable Leadership Learning System. Click the link, email us or take advantage of the offer below to join us to build your leadership skills one skill at a time, one month at a time.