Articulating clear purpose is the most important action management can take to foster a culture of disruptive innovation
My name is Chris Kalaboukis and once again we’re coming at you live for the think future podcast the show. Number one five one that’s right. And today we’re going to talk a little bit about visions about how you can. Foster truly foster a culture of innovation. So. I’ve told you before. If you’re a long-time listener of the show that I used to work at Yahoo a long time ago from 2004 -2009. And during my time at Yahoo ran a number of initiatives there we ran a innovation program I ran an internal innovation program took into program that wasn’t doing very well and turned around and made it really sing and got employees very interested in looking forward and developing innovative products and services. Turned that into something that we called a futurist program where we basically did enterprise wide crowd sourced foresight exercise generating all sorts of really interesting cool ideas pumping up employee motivation and also generating something like three to four hundred interesting patentable ideas which are now. In play as part of the whole Verizon deal with Yahoo. And they’ve been recently valued at around a billion dollars. So one of the things one of the things that I thought was very interesting from my time at Yahoo. And it seems it still like that today. Is that when we looked at Yahoo when we looked at Yahoo back in two thousand and five two thousand and six and we compare it against the other key. Companies of the day. A and looked at their origins. We looked at Amazon. We looked at Google and we looked at e-bay. And if you looked at those. Four companies including Yahoo. You could very easily see what the core. Aspirational business of the company was so Amazon was the store the biggest baddest online store on the Internet. E-Bay was the auction site and Google was the place where you got the most relevant search results. So then at that time they all had a very clearly articulated purpose. It was articulated by senior management. It was articulated by what they did. The directions the company went all of those things were very clearly articulated the mission of the company was very clearly articulated. Now once the mission of the company is very clearly are taken lated. Then the employees were allowed to interpret it any way they liked. If you think about it. It’s a bit like the United States or any other country that has a constitution or. A sort of top level bill of laws and rules which states. These are the things that must happen but it. It states it in broad foundational terms. It doesn’t give you you have to do this and you have to do that it takes. It gives you these broad foundational terms a aspirational statements. So to speak or a articulation of clear purpose. A super high level articulation of purpose that can be. Capsulated in a few words in that it allows everyone else to work within that framework. And at the time we were thinking about Google e Bay Amazon and Yahoo. And at the time we thought to ourselves. Where is the clear straightforward obvious statement of purpose. The articulation of our Statement of Purpose. I mean if you look at where Yahoo came from. It was had very humble beginnings as a hand curated web directory and of course something like a hand curated web directory can’t possibly be scalable Well it can be scalable to a certain degree but it can’t really scale all that well I mean look at we could Pedia Mazola some of these directories have a real tough time maintaining their integrity. So at the time a number of us are saying well what is our clearly articulated purpose and after successive C.E.O.’s coming in and going. We had Terry Semel Carol Bartz a number of others. Marissa Meyer lately. Most lately. We eat each time a C.E.O. came in. All of the I mean I didn’t work there for the time there but while I was there when we saw Cobras come in other C.E.O.’s come in and go. I always hoped for the time I was there in the time I was in there for others who I knew who continued to work there. I always hoped that someone one of the senior executives a C.E.O. preferably would come out with that single defining purpose which would be. This is Yahoo. This is what Yahoo stands for this is what Yahoo is all about. And this is not just something that’s told to the employees it’s also told to the shareholders and it’s told to the public world. This is what our defining clear purpose is this is what. Here I am. Articulating. Our purpose and I’m doing it openly to everyone and I’m not only doing it by articulating my purpose by stating it. We’re rolling everything else to be in line with this articulated purpose. So everything that we do is going to in some way move us toward that purpose. So it’s an inspirational statement as an aspirational statement an inspirational statement to all the employees the shareholders the users of the company of the products and services of the company the state. This is what we are this is the direction we’re going in and that’s all you need to do in order to allow that disruptive innovation to occur. You just make you just articulate that statement the senior managers or to collate that statement. And then everything else falls into place because the employees the shareholders. Especially the employees go OK if a VAT is what we are then now we need. We know what we need to do in order to move forward in the time I was there in the time after I was there. We never really got that clear. Articulated statement of purpose. That would allow us to move forward and become that disruptive innovator. There are other companies that have that articulated stated purpose and that’s what they need and that’s what you need. If you are having try. With disruptive innovation if you’re having trouble eliciting disruptive innovation from your employees then maybe one of the issues that you have is you don’t have that clearly articulated purpose. Or if you do have that clearly or to collate a purpose. Maybe in addition to the clearly articulated purpose you have all sorts of rules that maybe don’t fall in with that clearly a tickle had a purpose because the senior managers can make a purpose statement and say this is what we’re planning on doing. But then internally you have all sorts of rules and regulations that are halting your people from doing those things if you could probably provide that articulated statement articulate that statement of purpose. And then throw that out to your employees and give them the minimum amount of other rules and regulations. Then who knows what destructive innovations they can build in allying with that purpose. Like I said before it’s almost like a country you have a country which is built with a foundational document like the Constitution the US Constitution is a fundamental document and while the US Constitution as a foundational document. Was the only rule of the land. Innovation flourished. But then once you start bringing in rules and regulations to augment supposedly augment the Constitution layering on more and more rules and more and more regulations and even some of them going up against the intent of the original Constitution. The intent of the original articulation of purpose for the country then that’s when you run into trouble. See if you trimmed back if you made that statement of purpose then trim back all the rules and regulation the keep your employees from being able to build to that statement of clear purpose then you’ll probably see some very interesting very disruptive innovation from your teams.