Pyramid of World and Industry Rockers

I believe that some business leaders are the world’s crowning jewels of innovative leadership, and they each cast a long shadow. Mixed in with their mortal blood is a spark of something revolutionary that propels them toward greatness – a drive and a passion that not only fuels, but actually enables their genius. They are all poster children for my Wave Thinking™ process.Industry Rockers

Here’s what I call Pyramid of World and Industry Rockers. Following the World Rockers, the second tier of remarkableness are the Industry Rockers and theyinclude Microsoft’s Bill Gates, GE’s Jack Welch, Virgin Airlines’ Richard Branson, Wal-Mart’s Sam Walton, and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett. The fourth tier includes Proctor & Gamble’s A.G. Lafley, Cisco’s John Chambers, Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter and Square’s Jack Dorsey, and others like them.

I initially thought to only include those who are living, but I had to make two exceptions because of their astounding achievements. If you can reinvent four industries, or start from scratch and build the largest company in the world with revenue of $466 billion and 2.2 million employees, then I promise to include you in my future hierarchy too.

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Eruptive Innovation Trumps Disruptive Innovation

Over the last 35 years, I’ve researched the fields of innovation, leadership, strategy, and many related areas by reading hundreds of excellent books and thousands of articles, and most important, talking with literally thousands of business executives and top managers.Innovation Hierarchy

I challenge you to find an executive of a Fortune 500 company who disputes that innovation is the fuel for growth. On the other hand, with a few exceptions, almost all rate their own companies poorly at it. And rightly so. Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor in their book The Innovator’s Solution report: “Study after study concludes that about 90 percent of all publicly traded companies have proved themselves unable to sustain for more than a few years a growth trajectory that creates above-average shareholder returns.”

Business gurus speak of quite a few levels of innovation. From my research, I’ve developed a new framework that I call the Innovation Hierarchy. We’re all familiar with the first four levels of the Innovation Hierarchy:

  • Level One is Sustaining Innovation: Regular improvements that keep you moving forward, but not necessarily ahead of the competition. Keeping up with the Bezos, so to speak.
  • Level Two is Incremental Innovation: Medium-sized improvements that benefit both your customers and your company. This can keep you slightly ahead of the competition, or if you are behind, help you catch up a bit. But, as shown in my previous cartoon, if a rogue wave of innovation hits your industry, you’re sunk.
  • Level Three is Breakthrough Innovation: This is not based on novelty. As I define it, “breakthrough” results in step-change in both customer value and a company’s financial performance.
  • Level Four is Disruptive Innovation: Coined and defined by Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School in 1995, it is game-change in an industry or a field such as education or health care. It is often created by providing the same or much better value to customers at a massively lower cost and price.

There is no question that disruptive innovation can change the rules of an entire industry, and rapidly create new winners and losers. Up until now, it has been the dream of any business wanting to win big. I would argue, though, that there is yet a higher level of innovation – a fifth level of the Innovation Hierarchy …

  • Level Five is Eruptive Innovation: It doesn’t just change an industry. It creates change so big and broad that it affects the world, the planet, society at large. History is replete with hundreds of eruptive innovations. Most advancements of mankind were due to one. Examples include fire, wheel, agriculture, ship, railroad, automobile, semiconductor, computer, robot, Internet, Cloud, and the smart phone. These do not just change industries; they change humanity.

The value of any framework is that it serves as a gauge to help you understand where you are and as a guide to show you what more you can achieve. Many businesses set their sights on achieving Breakthrough Innovation but most accept Incremental Innovation as “good enough.” After all, achieving Breakthrough Innovation takes vision and the ability to think and act “out of the box.” Yet beyond Breakthrough, there is no question that Disruptive Innovation can change the rules of an entire industry, and rapidly create new winners and losers. Until now, Disruptive Innovation has been the dream of any business wanting to really win big. Yet few businesses aggressively seek the even higher level of Eruptive Innovation. Truly visionary business leaders accept nothing less than Eruptive Innovation.

So what level of innovation is your company striving to achieve?

Part Two: Bandrowski Global Communication Clarity (BGCC) Exercise

2838873571_8ce78456bd_mAs I described in my Global Communication Clarity: Part One post, it isn’t easy to lead effectively in multicultural environments—particularly when you are an energetic speaker, and your audience (your global team, business partner, customer, etc.) is listening to you in their second or third language.

I developed an exercise when delivering keynote speeches, training, and consulting around the world. It has worked well for me, and solves the problem of the audience being too respectful to interrupt and ask you to slow down, or be clearer. Perhaps the exercise can work for you as well. (Remember where you heard it first.)

Step One: Discuss Global Communication Challenges

As a quick icebreaker at the beginning of an important business meeting or training session in another country, ask the participants two questions:

  • Question A: What are your biggest global communication challenges when using the language of the other person, and rank them by the level of challenge they pose? (Invariably, the answer is “they speak too fast,” followed by “they use words I don’t understand.”)
  • Question B: Can you think of when these challenges caused a significant business error? (Let them feel the pain, or they won’t change; one of my change leadership expressions is “no pain, no change.”)

Step Two: Invent Silent Feedback Mechanisms

Ask your audience for suggestions of acceptable ways by which they could signal to you to slow down, ask you to go back and explain, or to speed up.

Care is needed to do this in each country in which you work; in international business, the importance of non-verbal communication can easily be underestimated. What may seem to be a conventional gesture or greeting in American culture can in fact undermine a business deal in Asia, Europe, and The Middle East. Some hand gestures in various countries are considered extremely rude, such as thrusting four fingers at someone in Japan, the peace sign reversed so the palm faces the recipient in Jolly ‘Ole England, and the up-thrusted thumb in Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and parts of Italy and Greece. They all mean something similar to someone using the middle finger in American culture. These crude examples are offered to prevent you from being rude.

In Japan, senior managers attending one of my two-day Global Innovative Marketing workshops came up with these three signals for me, and they worked very well:

  • Slow Down: Hold hand horizontally, palm down, and lower it slowly.
  • Speed Up: Rotate the hand in a forward, spiral motion. (Not one I get a lot from audiences.)
  • Clarify a Point: Hold palm up vertically.

Step Three: Practice Challenges with Amplitude

I believe the single thing that distinguishes great leaders, innovators, athletes, artists, and anyone for that matter, is they have huge Amplitude. Amplitude is the measure of the height and depth of a wave—and determines its intensity—as in the power of electricity, the brightness of light, the loudness of sound, and just about every other phenomenon in the universe on a grand scale to the sub-atomic level. To change a habit, or learn something new, doing it with Amplitude—at the extreme level—is the fastest way to make progress.

In this exercise, practice with your audience in an Amp Upped manner, periodically and purposely doing one of the following, then wait for their signal. Speak:

  • Really fast!!!
  • Toooooooo ssslllooooooowwlllly
  • Too erudite—as in “who knows?”

Exaggerating each time is also good for a few laughs; humor is a key tool in facilitating learning.

Step Four: Simulate Challenges with Less Amplitude

As with any change leadership initiative, by now you may think you and they have both adopted “the new way.” But change masters know this to be a false assumption. Behavioral change (for both parties) takes many repetitions, each followed by positive reinforcement (“at-a boys” and “at-a girls”) delivered in a manner I call small SIPs (Specific, Immediate, and Personal). Otherwise you and they will quickly regress back to your old ways.

In Japan, this is where the subtle samurai image may still be lurking in their subconscious; their DNA kicks in and they just can’t do it automatically. So, you have to:

  • Amp Up your speaking intermittently to an extreme version of what is WRONG, to force them to signal you to do it RIGHT. It continues to get the point across, and invariably gets more laughs.
  • Amp-Down your exaggerations progressively to slowly wean them off of them, but still periodically testing them with a fake fast, slow, or “who-knows?”

Step Five: Use Bandrowski Global Communication Clarity (BGCC) Real Time

Now that they have practiced in an Amped-Down version, it’s time to go real time. Remind them that you need their Brutal Instant Feedback (BIF), as I call it. You want it, and it’s a gift to you (to accept, discard, or re-gift—as I’m doing for you.) And, they also need the same if they are not signaling you when they should be.

Americans are not the only ones who speak too fast. It can be a problem with any nationality. So when the opportunity arises, facilitate the use of the BGCC in the reverse direction. For example, have the Japanese team members use it when they are speaking Japanese, and someone from another country that speaks Japanese as their second or third language is trying to comprehend what is being said.

Given my enthusiasm and energy when I deliver keynote speeches and training, I once in a while still need a BIF. When I need it and instantly get it, it is Bandrowski Global Communication Clarity at its finest. It makes navigating successfully across multicultural and geographical space a whole lot easier and effective.

I hope you find this exercise to be practical and profitable. It could save you millions.

May breakthrough be with you,

Jim Bandrowski

Photo Credit: jungledrumsonline

Global Communication Clarity : Part One

Business conferenceOne of the greatest challenges in today’s business environment is leading globally dispersed, diverse, and multicultural teams. The teams can be made up of top management, employees, suppliers, agents, subcontractors, and anyone else with whom you happen to be partnering at the time.

To lead effectively, global leaders must have Global Communication Clarity (GCC). It is the capacity to speak in a way that is compelling, effective, and most importantly, understood.

I work around the world as a keynote speaker, business consultant, and trainer. To effectively communicate with top and middle management, as well as front line associates, in a wide variety of countries, I’ve had to learn the hard way to adapt my communication style to the country and the situation. With or without an interpreter (face-to-face, simultaneous, conference, telephone, etc.), there are three things I’ve had to change when the audience or meeting participants are speaking in their second or third language. In order of priority, they are:

1. Speak Slowly to Go Fast: Slow down to about half the pace one typically speaks in the United States—which feels like one third the pace if I am doing it correctly. This is particularly challenging for me because I am a highly enthusiastic keynote speaker who gets fired up, particularly when telling stories, and while conceiving and explaining breakthrough business concepts. But the faster I speak, the less others understand. If I speak slowly, as a team we can move faster. Slowing down to emphasize a sentence or a few words is a standard keynote speaking technique; Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, and other rock star speakers are masters of this. Globally, however, we all need to become masters of speaking slowly, and slowing down even further for emphasis.

2. KISS My Vocabulary: Use simple words, substituting basic words for complex ones, and doing the same with business and industry jargon. Take for example one of the key marketing research methods to drive the discovery of innovation opportunities. Technically it is call “ethnographic” research. An ethnographic study is direct, first-hand observation of the daily behavior of the targeted market segment. (In fact, many cultural anthropologists consider ethnography the essence of their discipline.) Another technical term for it is “contextual inquiry.” However, when explaining it in other countries, I find it best to use the simpler moniker: “Day in the life” market research—observing customers (both B2C and B2B) using your and your competitors’ products in everyday life, looking for frustrations and delighting factors that could be opportunities for innovation. Naming and explaining such concepts in this manner will not only make you more likely to be understood in other countries, but CEOs in the USA will also comprehend what you are saying, creating a shared understanding amongst your clientele.

3. Think Globally, Metaphor Locally: Switch from metaphors appropriate for the United States, to ones fitting the country one is in. When employing sports metaphors, for example, instead of basketball and football (even though they are played in quite a few countries now), I use hockey in Canada, karate in Japan (baseball also works if you clarify you are speaking of the Giants and Tigers), rugby in the U.K., skiing in Austria, tennis in many countries, and soccer throughout most of the world. The same applies within the USA: surfing in California, ice fishing in Minnesota, or sport fishing in Florida. I am fortunate that the three workshops I deliver in which I work with the audience to simultaneously improve their sports and business/teamwork performance are on tennis, golf, and skiing—relatively universal sports throughout the world, although skiing is not a big seller in The Middle East, except perhaps in the indoor ski area in Dubai.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

What makes communicating globally challenging, particularly for Americans, is in many countries your local audience or business partner may not even tell you they don’t understand you. Here are just a few of the reasons:

  • They don’t want to appear unintelligent.
  • They think someone else understands (but no one does).
  • They are shy and embarrassed to interrupt you.
  • They don’t want to offend you.
  • They don’t want to interrupt you.
  • They won’t because of deep cultural norms.

It’s in Their DNA

The last reason on the list is prevalent in many cultures, and particularly so in Japan where I do a lot of speaking and training. I once spoke for two days in a workshop without anyone telling me I was intermittently flying too fast, until I saw the workshop evaluations, summarized as: “great content and interaction, but speaks too fast.” Lesson learned. This could happen because it is embedded in Japanese culture, dating back thousands of years to their multi-level caste system. One never looked a higher caste member in the eye, or even spoke to them without being spoken to, or there could be serious repercussions; the same norms applied between children and parents, and between a student and their sensei (teacher). And, from 646 to 1867, when samurai “served” nobility to protect them, it was legal for a samurai to kill a commoner who showed him “disrespect;” rumor had it if you looked one in the eye, instantly your eyes could be looking up from your head lying upon the ground. If I were Japanese, it would make me hesitant as well to interrupt a speaker, trainer, or business partner. The cultural norm continues today, almost as if it were in their DNA.

A Successful Solution

So what does one do about this if they have the tendency to get passionate and speak enthusiastically in meetings, workshops, or videoconferences, or if they miss-metaphor in a country, or err by being erudite? I’ve invented and successfully use a nearly foolproof and fun solution that can solve the problematic “fast, slow, or “who-knows” communication question, and I’ll delve into it in part two.

Stay tuned to hear how in a few days,

Jim Bandrowski

Photo credit: soanesmark

Learn more about my breakthrough strategies:

http://www.strategicaction.com/index.html

Innovation Amplitude: Succeed Even in this Tough Economy

Why do some companies consistently outperform their competitors? It’s because they innovate and execute better than the rest. Peter Drucker once said, “The enterprise that does not innovate inevitably ages and declines. And in a period of rapid change such as the present, the decline will be fast.” Poignant in past times, and even more imperative today amid today’s brutal economy and hyper-competitive markets.

What is the secret of these master innovators such as Apple, GE, HP, P&G, and Virgin? Fifteen years of research studying remarkable leaders and innovative organizations has revealed to me it is one thing. They have much greater Amplitude. In mathematics, Amplitude is the height and depth of a wave, which generates its intensity. In the X-Games, judges and spectators often use the term Amplitude to describe the heights of the jumps of skiers, snowboarders, BMX bikers, and skateboarders, as in “Boy did he get some amplitude!.”

What I discovered is that remarkable leaders and organizations have immense Intellectual Amplitude as well as enormous Emotional Amplitude. They apply them by:

1.        Digging deep with intellect and compassion to identify and excavate unmet market needs ahead of competitors (negative Amplitude)

2.        Leaping high with ingenuity and passion to develop imaginative solutions (positive Amplitude)—whether they be products, services, or other advances

3.        Completing the process by testing and selecting the best concepts to implement, and marketing them with the same innovative zeal as they employed creating them.

The sum total of this process is an organization’s Innovation Amplitude. And it can be measured, understood, and with this knowledge, increased. I have presented this concept to over 10,000 CEOs and managers around the globe and have received 99.9% confirmation that it’s the real deal.

What about the non-innovators? People and entire companies are sometimes accused of “thinking inside the box.” Well, the box is not just a metaphor. I claim it is real: a low Amplitude. So the challenge is to lead your entire organization out of the box by increasing its Innovation Amplitude.

Innovation is change for the better. Change management expert Rosabeth Moss Kanter stated: “Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation.” British politician Harold Wilson put it even more strongly: “He who rejects change is the architect of decay.”

Some today contend the USA is losing its competitive edge. Competitive strategy expert Michael Porter says, “Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity.” In this age of innovation, we all need to work together to do two things:

1. Discover America’s inner strength

2. increase America’s Amplitude.

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Inauguration: Barack Obama Has Huge Leadership Amplitude

Barack Obama has promised to cure America’s economic ills and restore America’s positive image. On a larger stage, he has the opportunity through influence to save the world from itself and make it a much better place. This will take huge Leadership Amplitude, as I call it. We are fortunate on this hallowed day of the inauguration of our 44th president. Obama has it, in spades!

Leadership Amplitude is made up of two components. The first is emotional amplitude, well known to psychologists. The second is what I have discovered and coined, Intellectual Amplitude.

Emotional Amplitude Moderated

Barack Obama may be the most emotionally centered president to date—perhaps even more so than Abraham Lincoln, one of his idols. For example, under the harshest fire from John McCain’s political pit bulls, Barack would hear it, smile and move forward. Golf Digest, in its February 2009 issue, reported Obama does the same on the golf course. He loves to compete by making small wagers to increase the pressure, and when he underperforms to his high expectations, he just smiles and analyzes how to improve on the next shot.

When he does increase his emotional amplitude, it is constructively. On the one extreme, he lets his emotions out of the box with deep compassion for the world’s problems and feels everyone’s pain around the world. On the positive extreme, his passion and confidence to solve them is obvious to everyone. As he stated, “The country has chosen hope over fear,” and later, “We are ready to lead once more.”

Intellectual Amplitude Unleashed

Constructive emotional amplitude is a wonderful quality, but it is insufficient in itself to change the country, much less the world. Doing so will require immense Intellectual Amplitude. Here is where Barack shines as a Breakaway Leader. I have discovered that Intellectual Amplitude is the one thing, the singular trait that distinguishes great from good leaders. It is the Holy Grail of Leadership, if you will.

In his inaugural speech, and throughout his campaigning for leader of the free world, Barack displayed Intellectual Amplitude at the two extremes. On the constructively negative side, he identified and focused on the top vital problems that America needs to address, and he passionately voiced a call to action to drill deep for their root causes to eliminate or substantially mitigate them. Now, on the positive extreme, he already has begun to outline a vision and strategy for reinventing America and its role in the world. His inauguration speech spoke to both extremes. He spoke of “the gathering clouds and raging storms,” and of optimism that “our minds are no less inventive than before,” and declared “the state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.”

America’s Amplitude Must Be Huge

As I have asserted in prior writings, the “box” is not just a metaphor, it is real—a low amplitude. Remarkable leaders don’t just think out of the box, they lead the entire organization out of the box. In this case, the “organization” is America.

All of America must up its Amplitude to help Barack Obama and his administration see and solve the challenges of our country, and the world. As he proclaimed, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America.”

Barack, may breakthrough be with you.

Jim Bandrowski

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Innovation through Fusionomics

qc_iphone11

One avenue to strategic innovation is to slam together separate technologies or methodologies and see what you get. I call this “Fusionomics.” Think about Tex-Mex food and the mobile phone. Fusionomics is about to happen again. Get ready to have your iPod or iPhone be your game controller. One will be able to wave their iPod or iPhone like a motion controller for game consoles, similar to the Nintendo Wii technology. Social Gaming Network (SGN) has risen in visibility as a result of its iPhone and Facebook games. Now they are fusing web gaming and the iPhone in the iFun technology, and releasing its first free cross-platform game, iGolf. SGN CEO Shervin Pishevar describes their innovation as “the first time the mobile world, the Web world and social gaming have united liked this. This is like having a Wii on the go or a Wii in your hand.”

In my book, Corporate Imagination—Plus, published by The Free Press imprint of Simon & Schuster, I explained several strategic innovation techniques. One method I detailed was “seeking combinations.” Fusion is a classic approach to creativity; things that already exist are linked together, in a marriage of thoughts.

In the food industry, in which I do extensive work, consider the examples of wine coolers, toaster waffles, milkshake breakfasts, chunky soups, and all of the “lite” foods. Additionally, years ago Procter & Gamble created an innovative new laundry product from two existing but separate products, a combination of detergent and fabric softener, named Bold 3. The products were commonly used together when washing clothes already, but required the purchase of two separate products; they just combined them in one product for a compelling marketing hook. How did the rest of their competitors miss this obvious combination?

Seeking effective combinations of existing products, yields innovative concepts and  powerful marketing niches; think cross-promotion sales and merchandising, retailer branded credit cards, and cross-over vehicles.

Examples abound. From a technological perspective, the key to relational databases, the fastest growing segment of the software industry, is the power of the programs to relate two different files of data, so long as they have some element in common.  Ever hear of a company that broke ground seeking combinations in this area named Oracle? Larry Ellison, the company’s driven CEO, is a remarkable breakthrough leader.

On a personal note, my thirteen year old twin boys, Eric and Ryan, and their two friends conceived the germ of the Wii concept six years ago in our family room when they were seven years old. I walked in one day and found them lined up watching Star Wars and in unison replicating the laser sword battle scenes with their toy light sabers. I asked them if they’d like to do this with their Sony Playstation, and they asked how. I said it would take a few years. In my next leadership development training session at the largest computer game publisher in the world, I offered the idea for free, and I recommended they partner with Sony and develop it. I repeatedly voiced the idea in each annual session with this company. For whatever reason, no action was taken on the idea and three years later, near-dead Nintendo launched the Wii, and subsequently screamed to the top of the computer game console industry, right past Sony. It broke my strategic heart.