Archive for the 'Change Leadership' Category

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?

Barack Obama is a Breakthrough Leader!

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Congratulations President-Elect Barack Obama! You have unquoed the status, as I call it, and ushered in a new era of leadership. And just in time.

America is awash in nearly paralyzing uncertainty and desperately sought a leader who can reverse the tide and restore the hopes and prosperity of our country. Barack Obama heard this desperation and saw an opening that would cross all previous boundaries of race, gender, class, age, and political affiliation. He crafted a campaign that resonated with Americans, and judging from the reaction here in Tokyo where I am currently delivering a workshop, as well as media reports from around the globe, it is also striking a chord with the rest of the world as well.

President-Elect Obama’s actions and statements thus far indicate that he holds a philosophy built on the principles of breakthrough leadership, innovation, and inclusion, with a mandate to drive change. His leadership style separated him from Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin, and arguably from all of his predecessors, enabling him to deliver an improbable victory that has fundamentally altered the electoral landscape, and he stands poised to alter the world stage as well.

He is a transformative leader. He recognizes that his role as a strong executive is crucial, and he has marshaled his inner leadership strengths to be equal to the task. Importantly, he also acknowledges that he as a singular leader can not do it on his own. He has begun surrounding himself with a strong team and called for partisan partnership. But he also knows that Washington isn’t good enough.

America itself urgently needs to discover its own inner strength. We individually and collectively need to take up the mantle of leadership, as he alluded to in his speech in Chicago as the new President-Elect on election night.

In that stirring speech he spoke of the challenges we face and will face, and prepared the public for the rough road ahead. He knows that it is critical to look our problems in the face, name them, and employ deep leadership amplitude, digging into their root causes-what I call the “dark-side.” But he also spoke of America’s promise, of the goals to be achieved, the changes on the horizon, and the possibilities of what can be accomplished together. I call this the “light-side.”

Barack Obama assessed what America was, is, and can be, and he has repeatedly done this throughout his long march to this day. He has a masterful ability to incorporate both the light and dark sides, and factor them into a compelling vision, with a reasoned strategic action plan, employing a strong, disciplined, and consistent message of intent throughout the duration. This ability is the key to unlocking his breakthrough leadership approach. There is much to learn from his example for leaders in all facets of society.

It’s fitting that I kick off my blog at this moment, as this remarkable leader ascends. Because what the country and the world are seeing in this President-Elect’s leadership ability is something I have identified in exceptional leaders throughout the world, and throughout history.

It took years of research to crystallize it, but as a global keynote speaker, trainer, and leadership development consultant, I have concluded that there is One Thing that separates great leaders from good leaders. I identify it as amplitude. Leaders who operate with amplitude dig deep into the dark-side, to diagnose world or industry problems, which are breakthrough opportunities, and then leap and soar to the light-side, to find ideal solutions others can’t even begin to imagine, or are fearful and hesitant to entertain.

Breakaway Leaders, as I call them, know what others don’t-the impossible isn’t. And, while they are strategic innovators with a compelling vision, they are relentlessly pragmatic and know how to make their strategies an enduring reality.

I have spent the last fifteen years searching for and refining what I believe to be the essence of remarkable leaders. In presenting my findings to over 10,000 CEOs, executives, managers, and professionals around the globe, and asking for their candid feedback, I have received an astounding 99.9% confirmation that this one thing-amplitude-is it.

In future blog postings and books, I look forward to sharing with you how amplitude is the core competency of great leaders, so that you can learn how to harness yours effectively, and put yourself and your organization on the road to remarkable results.

In future postings I will reveal hundreds of insights about how world-changing leaders employ amplitude to accomplish breakthrough results, as well as practical applications. My objective is to enable every one of you to discover your inner strength, and use it maximally to prosper.

If we all work together it will help fulfill the mandate that our new President-Elect has set before us as a nation, and around the globe to make the world a better place.

Stay tuned to amp up.