Monday, April 25, 2011

Great Innovators are often successful because - Personal Drivers

Personal drivers are as much about the tangible (what you know and what  you've accomplished) as it is about the intangible (who you know and how you connect with them).  Both sides are key to being successfully influential.  And you need it all.  At its core though...there are some invisible type questions I always like to ask when it comes to personal drivers...

How do you interact with others?  Do they understand how you like create, produce, learn and interact?  Do you overlap with "how they like to do things"?  Are you one of their "trusted advisers"?  As an individual what about these facets of yourself...Are you a person who gets their energy from people or from yourself?  Do you like the big picture or do you like the facts.  Are you a person of action or one who is prudent?  We all like to innovate differently.  In fact how well you overlap with someone is something that can greatly affect how well they "take to you".   If you don't get along with someone else how can you influence them or better yet get them to trust you?  As I like to say without trust you can have no innovation.  It is the foundation of a creationship (my favorite word from my good friend Robert Porter Lynch who I will post and respond to some of his thoughts shortly) a place of total trust transparency and collaboration between people.   Great innovators are not only aware of the personal drivers to make things happen.  They are aware when they don't align and can actually either adjust themselves or delegate and bring the right people to the table to help make the change go more smoothly.  When have a partnership it is about leveraging differences and trusting their value to our ability to get things done.  Without each other we can have no collaboration and I have proven many times in my career (at least to myself) that it is table steaks for innovating.  I know what I don't know and try to see who knows what I don't know...then I find them and work with them.  It is is smart and it is a proven way to succeed.  On to the personal drivers...

They have a successful track record:  Remember Data, Gut and EXPERIENCE.  This is where a person's experience with you is what gets you the credibility to make change happen more quickly.  When you succeed, people trust you.  And when they trust you it takes less to convince them to try something new because you become someone they can count on.  Whether you are successful in their mind can be a complex thing, because it could be you do things the way they like or because they actually saw the tangible value you provided.  Ever get something done, but have people still question your track record?  A successful track record is as much about how as it is about what you achieved.  Make sure you are aware of the difference because it can be an awareness you have about yourself.  You may think you have a successful track record but do they?  If they do then you have a personal driver for making change happen.  My favorite example of this deal with work I did for my friend (now close ally and mentor) John.  When I was working at innovating from the middle, John was a senior executive at my company.  He was in the middle of working on a very big project that was a high stakes game.  I took the risk to claim that I could apply social media to his problem to help him get more data that would help make a stronger case for his project.  He trusted me (because we liked to innovate in the same way) and gave me the funding to prove my point.  I executed the project with a team of people to make it more objective.  The data helped make the case stronger and John was thrilled with the risk I took, the novelty of my approach the strength of the data.  Ever since that exchange we have become close friends, he trusts my unorthodox instincts for things and has supported me both personally and professionally ever since.  He is my trusted adviser and someone who has helped me the most over the last several years.  I value him.  But I got this trust because of my successful track record in helping him AND because he understood how I like to innovate.  It made sense to him too.

They have professional credibility:  I have experience innovating...I have a track record...people see that track record and it often leads to trust in what I do.  Whether this professional credibility comes from what you studied, the certificates you hold or the respect you get in your background, the cred gets you the audience.  These personal drivers about the tangible things you did.  If I tried my hand at innovating in the law space, I would question my skills UNLESS they wanted me to think about the process by which they create new ideas.  My professional credibility is all about driving change and putting structure around it.  It is about helping get the most out of how people can work together to create and execute new opportunities.  It is NOT about innovative legalese.  I stay true to my area of expertise and then I get the credibility to drive the change.

They have strong allies/relationships:  Your network is worth its weight in gold.  This is about having personal drivers based on who you know.  How far does your network reach?  How powerful is it (power drivers)? Who within the organization can you get to?  How intimate are these relationships?  Do you they see your value (see above)?  All these things are what get you personal influence.  And this is about how you like to build relationships and how you like to network.  To have strong allies you need to do the things above, but you also need to deliver for them too.  Do you go out of your way expecting nothing from your allies.  Do you pay it forward when people need you?  These are all important aspects of creating a strong network/allies to be successful at leveraging the personal drivers.  I really believe in networking and giving and receiving.  It helps me reach farther when I need to get something done.   A good lesson here is something I have personally committed to over the past three years during the recession.  I ALWAYS go out of my way to help my allies/network get jobs.  I take personal ownership of helping my colleagues in need because I just believe it is right.  In fact, I have helped 3 or 4 people land jobs during this time and asked for absolutely nothing in return?  Why?  Because when I need those people they will be more apt to help me back later when I have need.  And if I never need them...who felt good to do it.  You would be surprised to see how many people will not go out of their way to help unless it helps them.  I think this is bad networking and it is a sure way later to hurt your ability to have the personal drivers you need to get things done.  They say a positive customer experience is shared with a few people and a negative one much more.  Same goes for building a successful network.  Treat it like gold, nurture it when it doesn't make sense and be there personally and professional for people.  It is the currency of being a successful innovator.

They have found an innovation kindred spirit:  The last personal driver is the most esoteric and the one that I love the most (it is the conceptual thinker that I am).  Ever meet someone and you just simply connect so much that you simply open up and trust.  I call this the innovation kindred spirit.  My friend Robert Porter Lynch calls it the creationship.  Either way, this is a special place that enable big things to happen quickly.  This type of synergistic moment is when you have found someone who simply get YOU and IT.  You can't explain it but we have all been involved in it.  Treasure it...recognize it and leverage it to get your ideas moving in the direction of implementation.

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