I was in Austin last week working with an international group on strategy. One of the key discussion topics was the need for change and innovation in the organization. Often it takes a crisis to trigger change because the authority for strategy and direction resides at the top – where a relatively small group of people are anchored in past practices and insulated from current realities. This isn’t new. Intel’s Andy Grove, Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger, strategy guru Gary Hamel, and many others have pointed out this risk. But very few organizations have practices to ensure that innovation is encouraged and fresh ideas get to the top. Austin is known for innovative music and food. Their motto is, “Keep Austin weird.” What’s your innovation motto?
We were in Toronto this weekend for a Blue Jays-Yankees game. The Yankees lost a must-win game they easily could have won having many opportunities. In interviews after the game player after player said they controlled their own destiny. There was no blaming others; there was no shifting the topic to something else. They refused to speculate about winning pennants or the next series. Everyone was on the same page: We have the talent, we have a great team, we want to win the pennant and we’ll do that by doing our best. The Yankees isn’t the only sports team that talks this way. It’s a good model for business, and it would be refreshing in politics.