Press Release - February 25, 2014
Hi everyone, we would like to welcome you back. In this issue of the President's Letter we are exploring:
Louis Gerzofsky addresses the makeup of the innovators among us. Specifically, what are the key traits that separate them from the pack?
If you'd like to share your own insights, please contact Louis using our Online Contact Form.
All the best,
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
Innovative. That's the one adjective that appears on almost any resume we receive or during most interviews we conduct during the course of a search. Our clients ask for it, in one form or another and every candidate we interview will go to some length to describe his innovative accomplishments. What does it actually take to be innovative? Why are some executives good problem solvers while others are great problem finders or innovators?
The true innovator is a problem finder with the ability to see around corners. He doesn't think outside of the box, he transcends the box. This is the executive who sees beyond everyone else's parameters and identifies opportunities or dangers before they hit the front page or impact the bottom line. They are often seen as contrarians who can revolutionize a company or an entire industry with their seemingly idiosyncratic approaches. Steve Jobs was notorious for his belief that his customers did not always know what they wanted. He and his team would create amazing products and services before Apple's customers felt the need for them. How many people remember that the App Store began its very successful life as a simple looking 'add on' to iTunes and now has downloads in the billions?
What is the innovative executive doing to successfully lead his organization? Our experience on the front lines of the assessment and selection process suggests a group of common traits that creates separation between the innovators and problem solvers. For starters, the innovators exhibit insatiable curiosity coupled with a doggedly persistent questioning style. Their executive teams arrive at meetings knowing they'll be drilled for details and 'what if' scenarios that will surely test their patience and preparation. But, they also know they're part of a team being led by a person who will likely develop a revolutionary product.
Insatiable curiosity and great questions, however, aren't enough and the successful innovators know it. They are much, much more than starry eyed dreamers. Each of them is highly process driven. They understand that without the rigors of a well developed system their ideas could turn into disasters. Innovators may look like gamblers to the untrained eye, but to anyone who works closely with them they are actually calculated risk takers who know their way around a staged methodology and whether their idea will likely lead to a fundamental transformation or a dead end.
Perhaps the most important characteristic of these exceptional individuals is their sense of knowing when to let go. They are rigorously - and some would say ruthlessly - attached to results. They practice intellectual attachment and avoid emotional attachment to their ideas. They may be iconoclasts, but they are iterative iconoclasts who innovate with a laser beam focus on baby steps and costs before they take the giant leap forward. If the new concept can't fulfill its promise in a cost effective manner their company will not unduly suffer as a result.
If you have examples or anecdotes of successful or unsuccessful innovations from your experience or readings that you would like to share with the JB Homer community, I would welcome your contribution. Please feel free to call or contact me via our Online Contact Form.
I'll leave you with one more quote:
"Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction."
John F. Kennedy
By Louis Gerzofsky, Director of IT Search and Executive Career Coaching