Probably the best CEO interview we’ve ever read. That was the first idea that hit us as we read “Google’s Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter“, by Steven Levy at Wired.
Page, the co-founder, now CEO, at Google gives a personal, insightful interview on his leadership philosophy and innovation thinking at Google. One of the defining moments, writes Levy, ‘’As an undergrad at the University of Michigan, he found inspiration in a student leadership-training program called LeaderShape, which preached “a healthy disregard for the impossible.” According to Page, this strongly shaped his thinking that led to the Google we know today.
This is exactly the kind of innovation thinking, the kind of program we have been developing and running over the last two years. Walt Disney said ‘’It’s kind of fun to do the impossible’’, and that’s the essence of our last book ‘’Dream Bigger’’. It is this philosophy we believe will be required to reinvent dying industries and launch amazing strategic transformations. It’s the leadership mindset for a new breed of leaders. For innovation leaders.
Larry Page calls this “Living by the gospel of 10x. Most companies would be happy to improve a product by 10 percent’’, not Google. Instead, Larry and his team drive for ’’Thousand-percent improvement, this requires rethinking problems entirely, exploring the edges of what’s technically possible, and having a lot more fun in the process’’. This is Google thinking big, Google’s “Moon shot Philosophy”.
In “Dream Bigger” we write:
What if you could change the future of your company?
Where would you begin?
What would be your radically ambitious dreams?
What would be your mind-numbingly awesome first steps?
Through our teaching and consulting we meet thousands of people.
Too few are truly recklessly ambitious.
Too few are truly trying to achieve the impossible.
We want to change that.
Our goal is to help you and your company Dream Bigger
– and execute successfully.
Because we fundamentally believe,
“if you can dream it, you can do it”.
So let us.
But not all executives have the courage to do just this. Too few are recklessly ambitious. Too few have moon shots. Too many are stuck in an operational mindset, trying to defend their core legacy business model, rather than inventing the future.
Says Page “I worry that something has gone seriously wrong with the way we run companies. If you read the media coverage of our company or of the technology industry in general, it’s always about the competition. … That’s why most companies decay slowly over time. They tend to do approximately what they did before, with a few minor changes… But incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time. Especially in technology, where you know there’s going to be non-incremental change”
Page’s view is reflected in the theme of the upcoming Strategic Management conference, Inside Outliers: Driving Systemic Change states “Being positively different is the goal of strategic management” That of course requires us to think differently, act differently and the courage to break out of industry norms.
‘’Why don’t we see more people with that kind of ambition?’’ (10x), asks Levy.
Page’s reply is very, very insightful: It’s not easy coming up with moon shots. And we’re not teaching people how to identify those difficult projects. Where would I go to school to learn what kind of technological programs I should work on? You’d probably need a pretty broad technical education and some knowledge about organization and entrepreneurship. There’s no degree for that. Our system trains people in specialized ways, but not to pick the right projects to make a broad technological impact’’.
To develop organizations for the future, we believe Innovation and Innovation thinking needs to become everyone’s job. We need to fundamentally rethink training, development and education. To succeed in this paradigm, leaders need to rethink their roles, master new skills, learn new tools and understand how to drive strategic innovation. They can all begin by reading Larry Page and his leadership philosophy.
Take a look at ”Dream Bigger” here.
Interview with Christian Rangen, Partner , Engage // Innovate, Founder, Strategy Tools for the Next Generation and speaker at FEI EMEA 2013.
So to start us off, can you tell us a bit about yourself and a bit about Engage // Innovate?
Elisabeth Ovstebo and I founded Engage // Innovate in 2011 on the idea of helping companies make innovation happen. Ours was a very wide definition of innovation. A perspective we developed while spending time at Copenhagen Business School in 2010. We had both seen – through consulting work and management roles – how poor leadership stifle or kill the strategic creativity in most firms. Companies are usually great at on-going operations. But very, very poor at strategic innovation. There are many reasons for this. Management education is one. Budget allocations a second. Recruiting and developing a third and overall corporate management systems a fourth. Most firms are simply built for business as usual. But the day in age we live in, business is anything but usual. The monster waves of globalization and digitalization is crashing down all around us, causing protective national borders to vanish, causing business models to blow up, and turning stable industries upside down. In short, change is changing and creative destruction is only speeding up. Since 1995 we have known this as the consequences of disruptive innovations. Our research shows that there are three sets of disruptions; already happened, on-going and coming soon.
One: industries that are already disrupted. Classic examples here are the music industry, travel agents, books, software, airline industry, mobile phone industry and more.
Two: what we call on-going disruptions. This is the numerous disruptions happening right now. Among these we find: grocery shopping, retail banking, recruiting industry, Television industry and the marketing industry, to name a few.
Third: the coming soon disruptions. These are industries where we are seeing the early signs of significant disruption over the coming 10+ years. These include education, health care, car industry, oil and gas, house construction and many more. These industries all have a common trait: the need for strategic innovation. A need for radical, creative shift in the industry paradigm. Now, the problem is few people know how to do this. How do you create strategic innovation?
How do you use disruptions to your advantage How do you spark a series of highly creative
strategies that shift the industry norm? How do you? This is hardly taught in business schools –
we know, we teach there. Few of today’s management teams are equipped for strategic
innovation – we know, we have led consulting projects since 2002. Fact is, few managers and
executives know how to drive strategic innovation in established firms. In our view, this is a
So, we have set forth to create our next big thing. We call this Strategy Tools for the Next
Generation. We believe, most of today’s strategy tools are insufficient to explain many of our times most successful companies. The next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, risk takers and pirates need new visual tools to master strategic innovation. They need new tools to make strategic innovation happen.
But we are not alone. A global network of management innovators, business model thinker and
innovation heroes are pushing the limits of strategic thinking and creating the future. Our
aspirations are to gather, create and organize the strategy, innovation and management tools for
the next generation of entrepreneurs, risk takers and pirates. We want to build the toolkit today to
help the leaders of tomorrow create the future – starting today.
That’s what drives Elisabeth and me in our effort to make innovation happen. Today we are
established in Norway and Brazil. More than 70 firms have started using these tools, and we’re
looking at a steep growth rate for 2013. Next, we aim to run an increasing number of
international workshops during 2013 and 2014.
You’ll be running a workshop on Sparking Strategic Innovation at Front End of
Innovation EMEA 2013 – what can attendees look forward to if they join your workshop?
Visual tools. Specific tools for strategic innovation. This will be a very hands-in, idea driven workshop. The key take-away will be tools. Participants will learn to master new tools for strategic innovation.
Our workshop will help people connect strategy and innovation and create more innovative strategies. Through our research and teaching we have developed or identified 32 strategy, innovation and management tools. Tools for the future. People will learn these tools through a series of case studies. But most of all, use, start using these tools on their own company’s strategic challenges You will learn how to apply these visual strategy and innovation tools to your ongoing innovation challenges. The session will combine emerging theories, case studies and new innovation tools into a highly interactive workshop.
So, please, join us to master new tools to kick-start your own innovation journey and get your personal action toolkit for making innovation happen in your business
What is it that first got you interested in innovation strategy? And what keeps you inspired?
While Elisabeth and I come from different backgrounds, we deeply believe in engagement and innovation. We believe that if you bring together the right mix of people, engage them and give them big challenges and big ambitions, magic will happen.
But very few companies do this. Most firms create a closed information hierarchy. They don’t let people use more than a fraction of their potential and they certainly don’t let people innovate wildly to create a better future. Now, bring these issues into strategy, and strategic thinking very often comes nothing more than a repetition of the past, + 3 %. We’ve seen this happen over and over again.
When we look at the massive waves of globalization and digitalization that will continue to pound established firms over the next 20+ years, we know they need a different mindset, different tools and well, for many, a very different innovation strategy to not only survive, but to grow and prosper. Leading thinkers around the world are working on this. Inspiring thinkers. Gary Hamel and the MIX, Verna Allee, Scott D. Anthony and his team at Innosight, Clayton M. Christensen, Alexander Osterwalder, Stefan Lindegaard to name a few. Their work, their stories and their successful impact inspire us to aim higher and bigger for our clients and our students.
Lastly: based on your own experience, or what you have heard: what one piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting their company out with an innovation program or project?
We’d like to offer three advices.
Number one, bring tons of passion. This energy will carry you through the numerous obstacles you’ll meet in driving innovation in established cultures. Anthony’s recent HBR articles, “the New Corporate Garage” is a great example of this (HBR; September 2012)
Number two; learn the Innovation Thinking Modes. This visual tool, available on our website, shows the different mindsets you’ll encounter in your innovation work. For all our projects and teaching, this is THE starting point.
Number three; master new tools for strategic innovation. Tools like SWOT, PESTEL and Five-Forces will not help you create wildly successfully innovations. For this you need new tools. The Business Model Canvas (Osterwalder and Pigneur) is fantastic. We’ve developed The Strategic Innovation Canvas, The Innovation Pyramid and The Action Road Map. In our experience, master these, and you are well on your way to make innovation happen.
Feel free to download all these tools at http://strategytoolsforthenextgeneration.com/tools/
To learn more, join Christian Rangen and Elisabeth Ovstebo for a half-day workshop at FEI EMEA 2013.
Originally published at Front End of Innovation Blog