The Innovator’s Extinction…

InnovatorsXIf there is one book that needs to be on your ‘absolutely must read’ list, it is this one: “The Innovator’s Extinction – how best intentions and natural selection will drive your company into the grave“, by David Ulmer. [Ulmer, David (2013-01-27). The Innovator’s Extinction (pp. 48-49). www.changeyourdna.com. Kindle Edition.]

It is chock-full of useful advice and insights, and makes for a very entertaining read.

 

The top 12 survival skills outlined by David Ulmer are (quoting directly from the book!):

  1. Do not seek consensus for tactical actions.   Assuming you’ve been provided budget and authority, RUN WITH IT!
  2. Create your own set of numerical KPIs, such as the number of times you’ll meet with stakeholders, percentage of project completion, and number of projects initiated.   Enter these into your official Performance Management goal setting template and hit send!   No one will ever read these until you’re judged against them a year from now.
  3. Establish your Innovation budget in as few expense categories as possible, with broad definitions, before embarking on any activities.   Then, when spending on events or equipment or consultants or services you can drop the expenses into a big category that doesn’t get hit by the standard corporate line-item caps. You should be able to run this way for at least the first year, and possibly two.
  4. Gain a mid-manager friend in Accounts Payable Processing early on who has an inside track to injecting a vendor into the system, and hire a consultant or approved-agency who agrees to sub-contract to your vendors of choice.
  5. Do NOT go back to your superiors and colleagues for interim approvals or input on your progress.   Set forth the end goal, i.e. “We’re building a rock house,” and provide only generic progress reports as infrequently as possible.   Your mission is to have that house built with paying tenants before anyone has a chance to comment!
  6. Use email to inform, never to ask for permission or agreement.
  7. Avoid running your business as a P&L, but rather as a committed sunk cost. You do not want to re-justify your business’ existence quarterly based upon financial performance.
  8. Corporate white blood cells will always win in a direct fight.   Your best hope is to drug them into suppression or simply to stay out of their way.
  9. Discontented employees in other departments are often your company’s most passionate innovators, as well as being the easiest for you to hire.
  10. Don’t fall for the PowerPoint Trap!   Lure others in by example by responding to inquiries with actual conversations, one paragraph bulleted emails, and, only if absolutely necessary, small decks with large fonts.
  11. A new org chart will not save you.   Stop using that as an excuse or you’ll be just another headless chicken.
  12. If you don’t block off your calendar, someone else will.
Here are a few other gems from the book:
Corporate governance
“And slowly, insidiously, guardian cells, protectors of corporate governance and cost controls, will attack your decisions one by one, questioning, doubting, fretting, mischaracterizing, and diminishing, under the guise of defending corporate integrity and values.”
Tip for presentations:
“I highly recommend the approach devised by Guy Kawasaki, former Apple fellow, founder of Garage.com, and entrepreneur extraordinaire.   He labels it the 10/ 20/ 30 rule: 10 Pages.   20 Minutes.   30 Point Font. Black or dark blue font on a white background.   And if sent by attachment, place in the email itself a 3-5 bulleted summary of the very least you’d want the recipient to absorb.”
Meeting rules:
“I particularly like the meeting rules instituted by Google’s, Larry Page in the spring of 2011 shortly after he retook the reins:
  • Every meeting must have one clear decision maker present, and if there’s no decision maker — or no decision to be made – the meeting shouldn’t happen.
  • No more than 10 people should attend.
  • Every person should give input, otherwise they shouldn’t be there.
  • No decision should ever wait for a meeting. If a meeting absolutely has to happen before a decision should be made, then the meeting should be scheduled immediately.[ 22]”
What is an expert?
“An expert is somebody who is more than 50 miles from home, has no responsibility for implementing the advice he gives, and shows slides.” Edwin Meese, III, former US Attorney General

 

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