Leadership Quantified

From Bath Towel to Bonanza (Part One)

Innovation, Executive Development, Culture and Impact, ProductivityLeslie L Kossoff

I think a lot about innovation - but, much as I love what technologists do and dream of doing, I don’t think about it their way...mostly because I'm not wired that way.

Instead, I think about it the way (for want of a better word) a ‘normal’ person thinks about it. I think about the things in my day-to-day life that lead me to wonder:

  • “How did someone come up with that idea?” and 
  • “Isn’t it interesting that they did!” and 
  • “What was the first company to introduce it?” and, most important of all,
  • “How much pushback (for which, read hell) did the innovator go through getting anyone to pay attention to their brilliant idea?”

All of which brings us to bathmats.

Did you know that if you compare a hand towel that you throw on the floor because it’s convenientto step on after a shower or bath to a bathmat that you buy specifically for that purpose, you’re paying an 800% differential? At minimum?

Yes, it’s true. Eight hundred percent. Minimally.

Which is why I started wondering about bathmats and the person who first brought the idea to their management.

To be honest, I don’t know how the story really goes, so allow me to tell you Part One of my version - which is what most employees and most businesses experience every day.

Once upon a time (because every story should begin with “once upon a time”) there was an employee who worked in a towel factory. We’ll call him Joe.

Joe was a good guy. Everybody liked him. Management trusted him. He came in. Did his job. Didn’t make waves. Took home his paycheck and all was right with the world.

Over the years, Joe got married and had kids. Now, everyone knows with kids you can never have enough towels (or so I’m told) and keep in mind this was before the explosion of the baby-care paper products industry. There probably weren’t even paper towels. 

Day after day, bath time required multiple towels - for drying the kids and for drying the floor. Joe and his wife (whom, you’ll notice, doesn’t have a name - which is sociologically correct for the time, but says quite a lot…which is an issue for another day) got to the point that they would simply lay down a small stack of towels on the floor to sop up the excess.

And that’s when the lightbulb went off in Joe’s head. Rather than wasting a stack of towels when stepping out of the bath, why not create a dedicated towel - a mat!! - for that specific purpose.

Even better, because it would be thicker, the company could charge more money for it!

Well, the next day, Joe went to his manager and said, “I have a GREAT idea for the company!”

…and told him.

Which is where we’re ending this story today - because there’s a really important lesson in here for you, whether you’re a solo-preneur, business owner, manager or executive...and it’s this:

There are more ideas than you can count presenting themselves to you every day. Yes, every day. And the only thing keeping them from becoming reality is your willingness to try.

Innovation isn’t limited to geniuses or techies. Or techie geniuses. Innovation has no limits - except the ones we put on ourselves.

So don’t. Recognize the ideas you have and the ones that are brought to you every day - from small incremental ideas to world-changers - and then wonder…

Hmmm. Is it this idea? The one that’ll make all the difference?

You’ll only know when you try.

SOLUTIONS:

The Steve Jobs Series: Innovation (For All Levels)

Building Continuous Innovation: Four Key Strategies (For Managers, Executives and Business Owners)

No Limits.

Innovation, Culture and Impact, Productivity, Executive DevelopmentLeslie L Kossoff

I work with lots of companies in lots of industries around the world. So I get asked - a lot - why I use so many examples from tech…especially given that comparatively few of my clients are pure-play technology companies.

Well, I explain, there are three reasons:

First: Success comes from bringing alternative thinking and solutions to the same problems that have been effecting you and/or your organization to that point. 

Technology companies love to promote themselves. So do technology people. They tell lots of stories about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, what they’re thinking about doing and what they’ve stopped doing because it doesn’t make sense anymore. 

With that amount of disclosure available as a learning tool, it makes sense to pay attention and bring that thinking to my clients…who, to that point, aren’t thinking that way.

Second: The tech industry is not only built on failure, it celebrates it. 

As far as everyone who’s anyone in tech is concerned, if you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried - which means the only way to succeed is to build on your failures and turn them into successes.

As Fred Wilson, the Managing Partner of Union Square Ventures, said in a recent presentation at the MIT Sloan School of Management:

“Fucking up royally is good for you if you take the time to learn from it.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

Third: Among technology types, there are no limits. 

It may sound hokey or even pretentious to the rest of us when tech-types say they’re going to “change the world” - but it’s not. Especially not to them.

In the world of technology - a science-based world, when all is said and done - the only limits that exist are the ones that exist now. The goal is to find out where those limits lie and, using vision, dissatisfaction with what is and intrepid perseverance, saying “nuh-uh” to those limits continuing to exist.

No internet availability across an entire continent? Put balloons in the air that provide connectivity…and then improve from there. (Google/Facebook)

Rural area deliveries too expensive and too slow to fulfill the customers’ needs? Create drone delivery services. (Amazon/Walmart/Alibaba/JD.com)

Want to change traffic patterns, space utilization, environmental impact…and give customers the opportunity to go out partying without worrying about traffic violations or drink-drive accidents? Develop a car-hailing service app that costs customers about a third less than taking a taxi. (Uber/Lyft/Didi Chuxing)

Okay, my clients say. I get it - but I’m still not in tech…so what does this have to do with me?

Here’s what I tell them:

Silicon Valley is as much a mindset as it is a geographic location and industry ecosystem.

I also tell them:

Unless and until you develop and bring that “Valley” mindset to everything you do - particularly on failure and limits - you will never succeed to the extent that you want or are able.

Can you? Of course you can. 

Will you? That’s up to you.

Resources

The Steve Jobs Series: Innovation (For All Levels)

Building Continuous Innovation: Four Key Strategies (For Managers, Executives and Business Owners)

Be One of the Few.

Productivity, Executive Development, Branding and VisibilityLeslie L Kossoff

I'm a personable sort of person. Understanding. Thoughtful. Compassionate. Sympathetic (when it's warranted).

I'm also impatient and a lot tougher than I look.

And one of the things I'm most impatient about - and a lot tougher - is people who whine.

Inside or outside of my client organizations. Personal or professional. It doesn't matter the level or the reason. I have absolutely no patience or tolerance for whining or whiners.

But where does whining come from? What causes it?

Whiners are people who are more than happy to complain about their dissatisfaction with what is but have no intention of doing anything about it.

You know the types. They talk about writing a book. Or talking to their boss about a promotion. Or looking for another job. Or moving to a different country.

They talk. But they don’t act. They never start.

Then there’s the group that starts but doesn’t finish. They lose interest. It gets “too hard.” They have “more important things to do.”

They’re the ones who leave a littered landscape of ideas - from whimsical to great - that never see execution.

Or the other group that starts but doesn’t finish. They’re the ones who simply overload themselves with things that really aren’t as important and get in the way of the important work. For them, it gets to the point that can barely see their great idea any longer.

To me, they're the saddest group of all - because they tried. Really tried. And the reason they didn’t finish isn’t because they couldn’t. In fact, they were probably the closest to seeing their ideas come to life.

Instead, they got caught in the noise. 

Too many ideas piled upon the originating idea. 

Too many voices saying things - good and bad - for all sorts of reasons - good and bad - that muddied the waters so much that there was no clear blue water to be found. 

Too many tasks upon tasks upon tasks - each of which took them away from what they wanted to do.

Until someone else did it or, just as bad, they can’t find the excitement or the focus any longer to finish.

That's why when I read...

“Lots of people start. Very few finish.”    Mark Suster

...it resonated so deeply for me.

That statement is truer than any of us want to imagine - especially about ourselves. As important, though, is that lots of people talk about starting and even fewer of them finish.

Don’t be one of those.

How? The answer is easy: Don’t allow yourself to get distracted.

Executing on that answer? That’s the hard part.

But if you want it - whatever it is - then you have to finish. It’s that simple.

Don’t let anyone or anything get in your way. 

Execute. Deploy. Manifest your vision into reality.

Be one of the few. Finish.

SOLUTIONS:

Value Your Time: Manage Your Online Information in Under One Hour a Day (For All Levels)

Deploying Vision (For Managers, Executives and Business Owners)

Welcome to the Lead/Quant Blog.

Women in Business, Productivity, Innovation, Executive Development, Culture and Impact, Branding and VisibilityLeslie L Kossoff

Okay. Let's start with some facts:

  • You already have a full plate of resources that you know and trust..
  • You don't have time to read, read, read...no matter how much you want to know about how you can create success...faster, smarter, cheaper and in perpetuity.
  • You don't know Leadership Quantified or our Experts...or me, for that matter.

I agree with every one of those statements. And yet, as Founder of Leadership Quantified, I still decided that it was in everyone's best interests - customers and non-customers - to give you access to our knowledge, skill and experience.

After all, we've already succeeded. Now it's your turn.

So, with that in mind, let me tell you a little bit about us...as well as what you can expect from this blog.

Leadership Quantified provides proven, targeted solutions in an online Resource format that are immediately implementable, self-managed, self-directed, measurable and repeatable.

We believe - in fact, we know - that the majority of the answers you need are either already known to you or known to others in your organization. What you haven't known how to do is access them and execute on them using a step-wise process that provides progress measures each step of the way.

That's what we're providing. In five to seven steps. Every time.

Whether we're giving you targeted solutions on productivity improvement, bringing innovation to your organization or clients, culture, customer interaction and conversion, branding, marketing, social, executive development, promoting women in your organization...or more...the Leadership Quantified Experts bring the solutions they've implemented in organizations as executives and/or consultants that have brought us - and our clients and organizations success.

Now it's your turn.

Independent. Micro. Boutique. Entrepreneur. Solo-preneur. Omni-preneur. Small or Medium Sized Enterprise. Multi-National. Local or Global. Across industries and sectors.

We've worked with - and continue to work with - them all. To succeed.

Now it's your turn.

Part of how we'll help you get there is this blog - and that puts the onus on you. Read - but comment, too. Add your thoughts. As important, add your questions.

We're paying attention. Because - and yes, it bears repeating - now it's your turn.

Resources

Leadership Quantified Solutions Portfolio - 2017