The leader’s inspiration is often the high-octane fuel that drives an entrepreneurial organization. Any organization today wants to confirm its instincts with validating quantitative and qualitative information. While understandable, that reassurance can prove costly. Information is often inefficient fuel that can gum up the engine of change.
Entrepreneur Ross Perot has at least two memorable quotes about the hazards of information: “Written reports stifle creativity.” AND ““If you see a snake, just kill it – don’t appoint a committee on snakes.”
The Lebanese-born entrepreneur Nicolas Hayek pioneered the Swatch watch in Switzerland. He was also at the very center of innovation that helped Daimler launch the Smart Car, designed for the tiny streets of congested European cities. Elements of the Swatch watch can still be detected in design features of the Smart Car.
Information ought to be exhilarating for an organization. Often it is either hard to digest or distracting. Occasionally it can be down right toxic. Before you subject an idea to thorough analytical review, pose several provocative questions:
▪ Will the data we are seeking help energize the organization to think creatively about innovation . . . or, can this background help channel the team’s enthusiasm in the proper direction?
▪ Are we digging for data that can help either confirm or deny our gut instincts as well as addressing conventional financial hurdles?
▪ What relevant information can cause us to look at old problems in new ways?
It’s natural but not necessarily helpful to consider information about your firm or your industry to have a higher order of value than totally fresh information about trends in industry generally. Resist that reflex!
I’m a great believer in looking for commonalities in several unrelated industries at one time. Let’s say you’re in the food retailing business. There is a great deal you can learn from the cinema, healthcare, fashion, and smartphones. Surveying the broader environment with the fresh eyes of inexperience can yield the most stunning insights of all.