Mind The Gap: Innovation, Three Key Battlefields

October 9, 2010 — 3 Comments


In today’s challenging economic environment, business and leadership have never been more complex.  As global leaders, we are the Commanders of our troops and have a responsibility to ensure we are consistently pushing forward to ensure victory. While the obvious route is to cut costs, manage cash efficiently and hold down the fort until reinforcements arrive, it is merely defensive maneuvering.  It is absolutely essential that we, as leaders, recognize that we cannot win without going on the offensive to courageously engage innovation as a competitive weapon that will ensure we are victorious in the war for competitive advantage.  As Commanders, if we do not explicitly engage three key battlefields to ensure victory in the overall war, we are putting the overall mission at “Risk”:

1) Manage the present

There are fundamental stressors between managing the present versus selectively forgetting the past and creating the future. Many leaders, by default, are fully engaged in brutally fighting today’s battles, with little focus on winning the war. After all, if today’s challenges are not met the business will fail – this battlefield is a critical element of a successful wartime strategy. However, if leaders want to conquer the competition and secure new territory, they must also strategically engage the war.

2) Selectively forget the past

While we do not want to forget valuable lessons from the past and leverage what works, as Commanders we are also required to (often counter-intuitively) engage in creative destruction and constant re-innovation in order to prepare for the battles of the future. If leaders are not open to purposefully and strategically annihilating existing products and services in the interest of renewal and growth, enemy forces will ruthlessly destroy our armies and take back previously secured territory. Commanders that believe that what they have always done works, and do not actively engage in preparing for the next great battle, are doomed to defeat – just look at numerous examples throughout military history around the world. Every leader must realize a fundamental truth: What got you here will not get you there… Live by it!

3) Create the future

There is always an opportunity gap between what makes a company successful today and what is required on tomorrow’s battlefield. Leadership, technology, and environment are all constantly evolving to produce new and innovative opportunities to advance and defeat your opponents. The concept is simple, but it is not easy. The future is now. It is about what we are doing now to prepare for future battles – not what we will do to defend ourselves. There is a paradoxical tension between making money today and engaging the future, however if we, as Commanders, do not have the ability to focus on todays battles, while simultaneously engaging the war to ensure a strategic victory, both the morale of the troops and the ability to defeat opponents are at risk.

How focused are you, as a global leader, on each of these three key battlefields? Is your organization balanced between focus on the past, present, and future?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you mind the innovation gaps in your organization. Please feel free to contact me at  Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next week when we will look at the characteristics of an innovative leader to determine how a highly successful commander engages the battle and what s/he will do to win the war.


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Sheri is The Global Coach, founder of Luminosity Global Consulting Group, Global Executive Coach, Speaker, Writer and Global Business and Cultural Expert.

3 responses to Mind The Gap: Innovation, Three Key Battlefields

  1. Fully agree with you Sheri about the need to stay strong on all 3 battlefields. I just attended a SME Conference in Singapore and the keynote speaker who won the SME Internationalizing Award 2010, reinforced the need to always be innovative and seek global presence. ( he was formerly from Nufarm Australia but now runs Pacific Agribusiness. He spoke of the need to “run faster than China”, and seek new collaborations in Europe and Canada and in Singapore to leverage on the R & D funding.
    In Singapore, we realize that the Small and Medium Enterprises have a major impact on the future of the economy as evidenced form the recent financial crisis. So getting SME leaders to think global becomes all important. Helen Lim

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