Friday, April 22, 2011

Great Innovators are often successful because - Power Drivers

After having the data, there is power.  Even though I used to say that "Innovation is a team sport", which it is, a friend once corrected me and, "Innovation is a contact sport".  I have thought about it a lot since he said it to me and while I am a true believer in trust, transparency and collaboration, there is little doubt that there is a lot of contact when innovating.  And sadly, sometimes the contact is bloody.  Having recently wiped a lot of blood of my face in the war of change, I think that we must be true to ourselves and realize that power plays a role in being successful at driving change.  Below are some reasons one may be able to change the game when you have used power to drive the change.

They have unseen influence:  I would say that on average an innovator's most valuable weapon is that they like to network.  Does this mean that people who don't aren't good innovators?  Absolutely not, but we are talking about politics of innovation which by its very nature is about interacting with lots of people, situations and cultures (people).  As a networker or a relationship builder, it can be incredibly powerful to have a relationship that can help you when others can't see it.  Probably one of the best examples of this is a technique I have used many times in partnership (a topic for building innovation partnerships).  If you are trying to partner with an outside organization one of the greatest ways to create unseen influence comes from your partner.  You are partnering.  You want to get something done.  You have a culture at your company.  You have a hierarchy.  You have people competing for air time.  You have people between you and the decision  makers you need to influence.  Why not simply use your close and trusting relationship with your external partner to have them use their leadership to get YOUR point across.  By trusting you external partner and having them get their senior leader to make your case you have gone around your entire organization and created unseen influence.  Utilizing your network and DELIVERING for your network gives you credibility to ask for such things in the example provided.  You must continue to think about how you can have others be your cheerleaders.  This is the hallmark of unseen influence.  Cheerleading. Having others do it for you can influence around those in your way.  But remember, this works in both directions most of the time.

They have a risk tolerant client:  Why is this related to power?  Well a risk tolerant client will often take your objective, make it their objective and help push people out of your way because they believe.  Partners who believe in the risk you are asking them to champion creates a tide that pushes problems aside.  Sure risk tolerance is merely believing, but mobilizing that belief is power.  And if you can find all the risk tolerant clients during your efforts to make something happen, think about that political wave.  Pretty powerful, pretty unstoppable, and very protective of what most might consider risky folly.

They have decision making authority:  This one is as straightforward as it reads.  If they can make the decision and they believe in you then they can make it happen...enough said.

They have created hierarchical cascade:  This is one of my favorite reasons I have succeeded.  In a previous post where I talked about the principle of BEVIA (believe, experiment, integrate, validate, adapt).  This principle explains how complex and dynamic gaining consensus can be when creating a change wave.  Essentially, just because you get the most powerful person to say yes to something, doesn't ensure you will move the mountain.  That being said,  it can create what is called hierarchical cascade.  This means that if you can get around everyone and influence those in power, they may take up your cause and with their influence get those beneath them to follow along (the cascade).   It can be a very powerful way to not only get your goal across the finish line, but also create future power for yourself because those around you will respect your ability to get things done.  In addition, you will have made a senior ally if your idea helps make things happen that are new and different.  Hierarchical cascade can be very risky (because the opposite can happen when you are wrong) but it helps build your success more substantially.

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