Innovation: Co-Pilot vs. Hitchhiker?

Innovate, or die. That’s the age in which we live. No great idea can carry your business for a decade anymore.

Now, in this moment, if you’re not Innovating in your business, your business is dying.

Innovation is one word that sums up the need to grow/change/forward progress/anticipate/forecast to meet the needs and actions of the markets/consumers we serve. It’s a buzz word right now but that’s for a reason.

Innovate, or die. That’s the age in which we live. No great idea can carry your business for a decade anymore. You’re lucky if you get 15 minutes. The minute you start implementing and executing an innovative idea is when the clock starts ticking on the shelf life of that idea.

That sounds pretty scary considering what it takes to move forward and change.The bigger your business, the more layers of approval, the longer it takes to innovate – the later you are to the party.

Many businesses fall off the innovation platform the minute they put the car in gear and push the gas pedal. They look at innovation in the rear view mirror and watch it grow smaller and smaller as they drive forward to execute their new idea.

Truth is, innovation needs to be a passenger, but not a Co-pilot – a Hitchhiker you stop and pick up every hundred miles or so:

    • Someone that is not going to your final destination, not invested in your vehicle, or your final results.

    • They won’t look like you, sound like you, or fit in with your people. 

    • Their experiences and perspective are unique and not “polished” by your company cloth. 

    • Someone who is free to see what needs to happen, speak the truth without the filter of consequence and who is not obliged to “ride it out ‘til the end.”

Invite them in – for a short ride. Let them make a mess, start a ruckus, make their observations, bring you resources and recommendations. Then let them out of the car and work through organizing the “mess” they’ve created/unraveled/suggested into action that will propel your business forward.

You need hitchhikers. People who can come into your business, look around and find missed opportunities, problems that need to be fixed, people that need to go and action that needs to be implemented. Yes, that feels scary, unsafe, unknown, risky. But on the other hand, risk aversion {we’re not talking financial risk here} is a strategy that has a negative impact for the long term security or survival of your business.

The innovators you bring in to your business and stay to execute that innovation generally stop being innovative and start owning, operating and thus, defending what they created. I’m not saying fire them, but if they don’t continue to innovate then they’re just party guests who stay too long, drink too much and pass out on your sofa.

Hitchhikers (consultants, coaches, change agents) are –

Unburdened with the tasks of making it happen.

Unfiltered by the previous successes or failures.

Unhindered by the bureaucratic, democratic or autocratic tiers of management.

They bring you true and pure innovation. It’s up to you drive it to its destination, drop it off and then get back in the car and do it again.


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