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Light 'em up
Light 'em up

The Spark to Ignite Your Innovation Ideas


To effectively introduce change to a team, an organization, a customer, or a market, there has to be a compelling reason. Early adopters have it easy - how can established organizations, teams, products see the same results?

As time marches on, and conversations around innovation, disruption, and digital transformation are maturing, you can start to sense frustration. Some industries are changing, in dynamic and exciting ways, with interesting new technology, energetic and engaged teams, and customers and markets that are accepting, even demanding, the change. At least, those are the stories that make the headlines and get the great stories – the 20% of the world that is seeing 80% of the impact. But how about that long tail of organizations, teams, markets, and people that can’t seem to break through and get the participation, the support, the interest? What about the rest of us?

I love drilling into these conversations – over the conference table or over a stack of bacon waffles. There are many unique and nuanced reasons for the frustration – God is in the details, as Mies van der Rohe puts it. Every situation is unique, no matter how hard we try to establish patterns, put things in buckets, and focus on the critical few. And after the latest wave of innovation knocks off the low-hanging fruit – how do you really start delivering transformative value for those next-level opportunities?

What’s Missing?

The discussions seem to boil down to a short list of topics – the hammers with which we are trying to drive these nails – that don’t seem to be working, that aren’t hitting the problem on the head …

  • Resources – Not just limited to budget – we could be talking about time, attention, or even great technology to do something different. We either can’t get it – or, we can manufacture it but it doesn’t seem to be enough …
  • Opportunity – Does the organization want this? Does the market want this? Even if we can get a few nibbles of interest, we can’t close the deal, get the whole organization to make the shift …
  • Permission – This seems to make sense, but there are stakeholders or gatekeepers in the way. Or – we have manufactured ‘permission’ because we’re doing this off the radar screen – no one can tell us NO.

But it’s still not enough … what’s missing?

The Hardest Part?

If I had to pick a common thread in all of the Frustration stories – it’s the lack of a compelling Why?

  • Why are you talking about this?
  • Why does the customer care?
  • Why should we change?

If you are not thoughtful about this, it could all look like a nice way to exercise your creativity, to escape the monotonous clutches of a static market, a market with no growth, a set of tasks that are not generating any joie de vivre This sounds like a hobby, a side gig, a diversion from the everyday.

If you want to introduce change – to a team, an organization, a customer, a market – there has to be a compelling reason. What are we trying to accomplish? What has changed? Why do I care? What’s in it for me? How does this align to our mission, vision? Why should we make this pivot, change course, add this to our current objectives?

For those situations that make the headlines and get the great stories – the 20% of the world that is seeing 80% of the impact – well, the Why was (and is) tremendously obvious, forced upon them, and/or driven by a force (a person) with vision and (potentially) resources. Fine for them – but for our long tail organizations?

We must focus on our own compelling Why … and help our teams, markets, and people see why they care about the Resources and Opportunities.

And most of all – help them understand they have the Permission – that they can be empowered to make change.

A compelling Why can be the spark to light your initiative on fire; let’s work on our understanding, and crafting a meaningful message and vision to help others feel the energy.

Ok … so how do I get to the Why? … 

Great question … join in the discussion with your Comments … and stay tuned for my next post …

10 December, 2017

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. James – nowhere is this challenge more apparent than in the world of technology sales. Look no further than immense sprawl of the most recent big data landscape infographic for 2018. Uncovering the ‘why’ is the reason I’m browsing your personal website right now.

    When I find it expect a more formal follow up in the not too distant future.


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