Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret (part 3)

Here are just a few more quotes from the book “Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret.” If you have a role of church leadership, you probably should read this book.

This is part three of three. You can find part 1 HERE and part 2 HERE.

Osborne Book

  • When it’s time to change the decision-making or reporting structures within an organization, someone loses power. It can’t be helped. As healthy organizations grow, they make room at the top. The number of people siting at the leadership table grows. That adds new blood and new ideas. It keeps the young eagles around. It’s how growing organizations stay fresh and innovative. But sooner or later the leadership table gets too crowded. Communication suffers, meetings run too long, low-level conflict increases, and nothing much gets done anymore… Whenever someone on your team used to be in the know, but now no longer is in the know. Expect them to experience a deep sense of loss and some occasional embarrassment. (pp. 137-138)
  • Those who are most likely to bring genuinely fresh thinking to your organization are always a little bit weird. They are almost always too young, too inexperienced, or too idealistic to know that their ideas won’t work. Which is exactly why you need them at the table. Any policies, procedures, or traditions that lock them out are worth the battle to remove. (pp. 143-144)
  • The most common problem is having too many people involved in the process. The more people involved in the process, the more likely it is that most decisions will favor the status quo… Having too many people involved in the process also tends to slow everything to a crawl. Large groups seldom make quick and good decisions… When [larger groups] try to work through the nuances of a tough decision, the key issues often will be boiled down to soundbites and simplistic solutions that can be easily grasped by everyone present. In addition, the larger the group, the more likely it is that everything will need to be reviewed over and over. (p. 144)
  • The fact is, most successful and innovative leaders don’t control their destiny. They ride it out. They start with a vision and a goal and then follow it wherever it takes them. And it often takes them to places they didn’t know existed when they started out. (p. 152)
  • Every organization has more opportunities than time, money, and energy to pursue them. That’s where vision comes in. The clearer and more detailed our vision, the more obvious it will be which opportunities and new ideas ought to be pursued and which ones should be ignored. (p. 153)
  • Wise leadership is not the art of the ideal. It’s the art of the possible. (p. 154)
  • The final step in communicating your vision is to repeat it ad nauseam. Again, as with your mission statement, your detailed vision of what success looks like can’t be repeated too often. Don’t worry if people look bored. Don’t worry if everyone has heard it a million times. Keep repeating the vision. There will always be new staff members, congregants, and customers who don’t get it yet. They are your primary audience, not the folks who’ve been around forever and roll their eyes when you repeat yourself once again. In fact, I’ve noticed that those who are best at communicating the vision are often lovingly mocked (to their faces and behind their backs) for saying the same things over and over. But they don’t care. They understand that the vision hasn’t been fully communicated until everyone can describe it in detail without prompting. They understand familiarity isn’t knowledge. They know it’s a good thing when folks know the vision so well they can jokingly mimic the stump speech. They’ve won. They’ve communicated. (pp. 159-160)
  • My greatest legacy will not be found in the changes and innovations that bear my name. It will be found in the corporate culture I leave behind. If I leave a legacy that encourages continual change and innovation, future leaders will rise up and call me blessed. If I don’t they will call me something else. (p. 165)
  • To lead wisely, leaders need to continually ask and answer the following questions:
    1. What is our unique mission?
    2. What are our unique strengths and weaknesses?
    3. What is current reality?
    4. What do we need to do to better fulfill our mission? (p. 166)
  • The problem is that our idealized memories of the past almost always look better than the harsh realities of the present. Given enough time, gory days turn into glory days, and pedestrian leaders begin to look like superstars. (p. 170)

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