Gartner analysts see many CIOs and IT leaders who are frustrated that they are unable to lead technology related innovation in their companies. IT is too often pushed back into a supplicant role. So I’m always on the lookout for examples of people in business who are really breaking through walls of disinterest and cynicism, against the odds – to see how they are doing it.
I recently had the opportunity to chat briefly with the CEO of a company that is trying to advance human spaceflight (no – it wasn’t Richard Branson). Now that’s a tough sell. I mean, many of us may fantasize about going into space one day .. but we don’t really believe it will happen. Imagine you had to sell the idea that it can be a reality. That it is worth funding. That government should take it seriously. That one day space tourism could be a major industry.. not easy. But this gentleman is making quiet progress. So I asked him how. What would he say to other leaders seeking to learn from his technique. The answers he gave me boiled down to three things.
Tenacity. He pointed out that he has been pursuing the same direction for thirty years. We all know how easy it is to give up in the face of others disinterest. He just keeps going. Maybe you are a bit ahead of people. One day the time will be right for your idea. Don’t walk away from it. One thing I have learned from watching Hype Cycles over the last 20 years .. is that most SciFi sounding ideas in IT become everyday realities in the end.
Talent. He says that whenever he needs to convince people, he invites them to the company site and they go away mightily impressed. But it is not because of what they see, it’s because of who they meet. He looks hard for truly talented people to join the firm – and visitors can’t help but to be impressed and a little more convinced that what he’s suggesting really can be done.
Do you take the same approach – really? Are you ‘filling slots’ or searching for the best talent you can get?
Team. To make real progress, he bonds the team tightly. They share a lot. They visit each others families. There is a sense of mission, not just ‘a good place to work’. If you want to really innovate – that is a very important factor. People must build in tight collaboration and they must have zealous intent. That way they convince each other and the rest of the world that what they are saying can be done is not only feasible – it will be done.
You don’t have to convince people to build a space port for a future space tourism industry. Maybe you ‘only’ have to convince your business to take mobile apps, gamification or the Internet of Things seriously. I reckon some of this ‘three Ts’ thinking might help.
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