How to Spark Real, Dedicated Innovation

A strategic vision is, by far, the least appreciated element of strategy, yet it has the power to focus the strategy, energize innovation, and mobilize an entire organization.  There are lots of current examples (think Apple and Tesla) but here’s a compelling vision from 1903:

“I will build a motor car for the multitude. It shall be large enough for the family, but small enough for the unskilled individual to operate easily and care for, and it shall be light in weight and it may be economical in maintenance. It will be built of honest materials, by the best workmen that money can hire, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it shall be so low in price that the man of moderate means may own one and enjoy with his family the blessings of happy hours spent in God’s great open spaces.” (Henry Ford, 1903)

That vision drove enormous innovation through development of moving assembly lines, standardized parts on an gigantic scale, and it revolutionized transportation, travel, and overall societal productivity.

What’s your vision for your company?

Apple’s Values Drive Their Business — Do Yours?

I watched a Charlie Rose interview with Joni Ives last week.  Ives is the now legendary head of design for Apple — the guy who worked so closely with Steve Jobs and designed all the winning Apple products beginning with the iMac and including the iPhone.  That interview is well worth watching.

The part that really struck me was Ives describing how their corporate values really drive everything they do at a deep, fundamental, almost mystical level.  Like other companies that are truly driven by values, their values are about what they are striving to accomplish.  Here are three:

  • We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products
  • We believe in the simple, not the complex
  • We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make

These are not the standard values that most companies have, you know, values like honest, teamwork, integrity, etc.  Those values are a given.  Rather, the values are about the work they do and what makes them unique.

Think about it.  If you were to develop of list of the values that truly should drive your business, your strategy, and the way you operate, what would they be?

What to do with a weak change sponsor

Successful organization change requires a number of factors.  Perhaps the most important is sponsorship — the clear and continual reinforcement of the change message by the top leader, and all other leaders throughout the organization.  No matter how supportive people at lower levels are in the change, if the leaders aren’t legitimizing and reinforcing the change with strong sponsorship, the chances of the change failing are high.

So what can you do if a change sponsor isn’t demonstrating strong sponsorship?  There are three choices:  Teach the sponsor to be effective, replace the sponsor, or get ready for the change to fail.

© Copyright 2016  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com

Why Leaders Need Objective Feedback

An executive I began coaching shared a concern that people did not participate in meetings.  When I sat in to observe, the problem was readily apparent:  He would frequently interrupt people to interject his ideas, dismiss suggestions with “we’ve tried that,” or “that won’t work,” and dominate the meeting with his talk.  While he thought he was creating a ‘dynamic and productive atmosphere’ clearly it shut-down good input.

No one in his organization is going to tell him that he was overbearing and the reason why people didn’t participate, because they were afraid of the consequences.  I could tell him because I was there to give him direct and candid feedback — something many CEOs and executives simply won’t get from their people.

What mechanism do you have to provide objective feedback to you?

© Copyright 2016  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com