Archives For Innovation and the Commander’s Character

There are two essential keys to success in global business today that will determine if you emerge bloody and battered  or ready for the next epic battle: 1) Cash is king and how you, as Commander, manage that cash will determine your ability to live to fight another day. However, if you do not strategically develop products and services that will enable you to consistently triumph over the competition, you will find yourself overtaken    2) If cash is king, then innovation equates to the arsenal of weapons used to protect the castle walls and conquer new territories. Without innovation you can not conquer your enemy or protect your kingdom.  If you, as Commander of all the armies within your domain, are responsible for ensuring strategic battle-plans are executed successfully,  you must leverage the best artillery you have available – including yourself… especially yourself.

As Commander, you are prepared to go forth and conquer everyday operations, selectively forget past triumphs, and boldly and strategically go forth into uncharted territories. In doing so, do you fully comprehend what it will require of you, personally, in order to fight successfully on all three battlefields and emerge triumphant in a war that is constantly evolving – a moving target? What is it that separates the good commanders from the great? What kind of leader does it take to mandate continuous, aggressive innovation on an ongoing basis?

Who has mastered the art of war, successfully engaging innovation as a strategic weapon to consistently emerge victorious?   Steve Jobs, Lou Gerstner, John Chambers, Richard Branson, Larry Page/Sergey Brin, or perhaps Mark Zuckerberg…all of these commanders have some distinct characteristics we can look to for guidance. If we observe behaviors, what we find is that strong commanders that embrace the role of innovation consistently:

  1. Embody Energy & Drive
  2. Display Courage & Focus
  3. Possess Mental Clarity
  4. Create Demand
  5. Seek & Drive Change
  6. Develop Dreams
  7. Engage & Deliver
  8. Value Accountability
  9. Intuitively Understand Customer Needs/Wants
  10. Embrace & Use Failure As A Springboard To Success

But how do you, as Commander, agressively drive innovation both internally and externally? Because you are the weapon of choice and will ultimately have a great impact both in the midst of ongoing battles, as well as on the outcome of the war, it is critical for you to embrace the fact that innovation will substantially drive outcomes. Ask yourself some interesting questions as you evaluate your commitment to innovation:

  • Passion: Do you, as Commander, have the vision, energy and drive to look into the future for new, unclaimed territories or are you stuck on the bloody battlefield on which you currently reside? Are you internally driven to focus not only on the future, but across industries, sectors, or nations to generate innovative ideas that will enable your troops to overtake the enemy and secure new, previously unexplored territory? Are you passionate about identifying significant events that will change industries, companies, customers – impact nations or the world – and do you ENGAGE them? What are you willing to give up in the name of innovation?
  • Possibility: Do you see potential and have the capacity and conviction to develop what you envision? Do you engage in intelligent risk-taking every day? Are you intuitive – understanding what people/clients want before they do? Do you consistently ask what it is that a billion people need and don’t have? Do you constantly scan the environment for opportunity? Do you work backward from your imagination or forward from your past?
  • Purpose: Do you have a personal sense of ownership and commitment to continuous change and securing new territories? Do you have a deep understanding and sense of purposeful investment in the continuous evolution of your army and your arsenal? Are you personally committed to discovering uncharted territories? Do you set highly ambitious, but realistic, goals?
  • Practice: Are you consistently encouraging your troops to engage and practice the innovations that arise within a controlled environment prior to attacking the enemy? Do you practice what you preach? Do you use practice as a competitive weapon, leveraging it as an opportunity to enhance the battle-plans and your ability to win prior to engaging?
  • Perception: As Commander, do you often reject conventional wisdom?  Are you constantly looking over your shoulder at the bloody battlefields on which you have triumphed in the past or are you looking forward toward unexplored territories? Are you looking for ongoing opportunity gaps? Do you believe in your ability to win?
  • Persistence: Are you relentless in constantly asking, “what’s new?” of everyone you come in contact with? Do you make an effort to see everything through multiple sets of eyes – the eyes of the troops, the enemy, and the innocent bystanders (your customers)? In every instance, do you think, seek, search, listen, probe, and extract? Are you focused on seeking out unexplored opportunities? Are you prepared to condone cannibalization – constantly annihilating yourself in order to renew products and services before the competition takes the advantage?

Within your arsenal of weapons lies innovation – too big, and too formidable, for any enemy to conquer if the Commander (you) chooses to leverage the competitive advantage within. How far will you go to ensure you are not the weak link in your companies ability to innovate?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you mind the innovation gaps in your organization. Please feel free to contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back next week for the next installment of the Mind The Gap series.