Dr. Hal Gregersen, co-author of The Innovator's DNA - Mastering the 5 Skills of Disruptive Innovators, was a guest on my radio show recently. You can listen here.
I published notes from our conversation in three parts:
- Part One here
- Part Two here
- Part Three here
The Innovator's DNA - Mastering the 5 Skills of Disruptive Innovators was the result of an 8-year study to uncover the origins of innovative—and often disruptive— business ideas. They interviewed nearly a hundred inventors of revolutionary products and services, as well as founders and CEOs of game-changing companies built on innovative business ideas. In the process they identified five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers:
We, as a nation, seem to have challenges moving from one idea to its impact, again and again. You know? Innovating on a sustainable basis.
I asked Dr. Gregersen:
We've reached the imagination moment in our show. Let's imagine President Obama has a few moments this week. He finds your book. . He picks up his Blackberry and calls you.
Hal, he says. He gets all personal because he is the President. We're facing some disruption these days. But, we're not finding a way to move progressively from one idea to its impact. Again and again.
What if you and your two co-authors join up with myself and Vice-President Biden. We want to hear your thoughts, maybe 3 things that we as a nation can do to move progressively from one idea to its impact. Again and again.
What would those three things be?
And he answered with all the clarity and precision you would expect:
I would tell you the following if I was talking to him.
I would say:
“Look. When we look at innovative companies it starts at the top. Every one of these companies who create sustainable ideas that make a difference they are led by CEOs and senior managers who actually innovate themselves. They engage these skills in an every day way. And so, if I were to look at a country it would be the same thing.
Here’s the challenge. But, let me step back for just a moment to me being a teenager again. When I was a teenager I wanted to be the President. I pursued it enough that I actually ended up working later in college, I worked a couple of times in Washington DC for two senators. What I learned working on the staffs of those two senators was when you work in Washington D.C. and you live within the Beltway you end up living within those buildings that are around the capital and the White House. And what then happens is it becomes extremely easy not have a silo built in your world and your way of working with the world that is not extremely incestuous. And that comes from talking to people who look like you and think like you even if they are on the other side of the political spectrum. They still are politicians.
My suggestion is I would get every single policy make out of their offices and into the field where people are facing these challenges. I don’t mean promotional opportunity to get votes for the next election.
I wonder how many people who are stuck in this budgetary grid-lock, how many of them have spent two days not pitching their views or their party, but how many of them have spent two days maybe living with a family that is struggling with the burdens of living in this economy for the past two years? I would be hard pressed to find even a handful of politicians making these policy decisions who have a good grip on what it’s like right now for people that they are making the decisions for.
It’s easy for me to step back and say this. I don’t have the answer but. But I look back to the financial crisis in 2009 and wonder how many of the CEOs and executives of the major banks in the world ever took the time to get out of their offices to walk down to their home loan making office and just watch the process of how these loans were being made?
I bet if they had they would have sniffed something ugly really fast. And they would have done something.
For me, the first recommendation is get policy-makers out of their offices and into the real world and using these observational and other skills of being an innovator to generate some better solutions.
2nd policy suggestion? Do everything we possibly can to invest in the next generation of innovation leaders. These are the kids and the young people who are growing up who are not just going to solve today’s problems but they are going to be the solvers of tomorrow’s problems that will probably be bigger than the ones we’re facing today.
And what I mean by investing in them is on one level creating educational learning experiences that foster these skills. And another investment and again I would ask those policy-makers to pay attention to the world around them. Look in your neighborhood, identify some families that you will foster their innovation skills so that some day they might be the next president and they might be better at solving the problems we face tomorrow.
Want More from Dr. Gregersen?
- Visit the book's website
- Follow him on Twitter
Some may say this is inappropriate.
This is politics! And you never discuss politics at Thanksgiving Dinners, backyard barbecues and on a business radio show.
I disagree. As long as only politicians can discuss solutions for our country then those solutions and their interested audiences will remain off-limits, political, for those who make this brand, our country, run. And only politicians, these days that's only career politicians, can discuss those ideas and spoon-feed solutions to the public.
I see our times as an all hands-on-deck opportunity and not a crisis. That opportunity is for each of us to lend our hands, our conversations, our ideas to find and share solutions. In our absence those challenges are left to ideologues, vested interests and politicians of all stripes and partisan persuasion. We...are the only ones with vested interests. And now we have, with social media and the urgency of today, the opportunity to reclaim our place at this table and discuss our ideas to solve our challenges. At the very least, we can listen to a discussion until we are ready to speak up.