Archive for September, 2009

Leadership as Visionary Servitude

Leadership as Visionary Servitude

Delicate Arch 2006

Nature's size is humbling

Much has been expressed about leadership in the written and video media. Much of what is expressed is how to establish a roadmap for your tenure, to direct those to walk that road, and to interact with peers and other stakeholders to facilitate alignment with your plans.

My experience enables a view of visionary servitude. Yes, leadership takes vision, but what about servitude? Most everyone can understand the need for servitute down the totem ploe. Yet, the individuals who are best at sustaining their leadership role believe and act in a manner to serve others around them–up, down, and across from them in theorganization. It takes inner strength and humillity to gain and maintain an attitude of servitude, especially when so many competing interests create challenges to this state of mind. Keep in mind that humility has always been distinct from a state of humiliation. Servitude works best when it pervades the organization, from top to bottom.

Innovation Hotspots

Are there certain locations around the globe that promote and support an innovation mindset? Can a city provide an environment that enables innovation rather than just an organization? Richard Florida, social researcher and consultant, coined the term “creative class,” and has authored Who’s Your City, identifies the following factors: diversity, innovation functions, patents per capita, a presence of a high tech industry, and the percentage of the workforce made up of the “creative class,” typically in the U.S., some 40 million workers who are scientists, engineers, computer programmers who work in the health care, business and finance, and education sectors, whether or not they are affiliated with an organization.

The most innovative U.S. cities are cited as Austin, Seattle, Portland OR, Washington DC, and San Francisco. Globally, Helsinki, Singapore, and Shanghai are credited as innovation hubs.

Metrics: Measure your productivity

Most executives believe that innovation will enable their company to stand out in the marketplace, especially in this economy. Yet, executives do not develop the strategies and execute the follow through necessary to create their innovation environment.

How do you measure that innovation has been optimized? Especially for use as a performance assessment tool? It is not as simple as the perecentage of sales from products introduced within the last five years. Each industry has its on uptake pattern for new products and each category of product has its own lifecycle.

Decisions on product development to proceed to market is based on getting the right information to the right persons at the right time. Optimum information flow requires open communication. One or two key metrics will provide focus, and other metrics help to define other areas that need help.

Using sports as an analogy, the final score of the game is what really matters as the focal point to measure performance, whereas other metrics can be used to illuminate areas needing improvement. In other situations, the obvious problems will arise without the use of metrics.

Clearly,innovation must be driven from the top executive on down throughout the organization. Where do you start? Start in a small part of the organization, assess, fine tune, and modify to optimize for the whole organization.