As I reflect on the different organizations I have done business with over the years, the quote “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” attributed to Albert Einstein, applies to the large majority of them.
Perhaps this is simply endemic of large organizations, but it seems that most organizations that are fortunate enough to become successful eventually forget what got them there – the tireless quest to produce a better mousetrap. To develop a better mousetrap, companies have to be willing to break the mold, to change the equation, to do things differently. Leaders have to challenge the status quo, develop bold visions and be granted the freedom the test their theories.
In many cases, technology will be part of the vision or recipe, for building the better mousetrap, but it is typically no more important than people, processes, design, delivery channels, etc. No, the magic is not in the ingredients themselves, but the way in which they are assembled, that makes the mousetrap better. With all due respect to Apple, which is unquestionably one of the most innovative companies of the past decade, I ask you, is the iPad3 really a better mousetrap? Isn’t it the same old iPad2 recipe with a couple of tweaks to the ingredients?
Consider the organizations that have built the better mousetraps over the past five years. Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon. These organizations embrace a culture rooted in the pursuit of changing the status quo, and grant their leaders the freedom to develop and pursue a vision for the future (World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies; http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2012/full-list).