Innovation versus control & discipline

Leadership development over recent years has traditionally placed great emphasis on the need for leaders to be innovative in order to lead their organisation to greater levels of success.

Controversially, the author of Good to Great, Jim Collins believes that greatness comes from consistency rather than innovation. In his new book, ‘Great by Choice’, he challenges the causes of success and questions whether it derives from luck or talent; genius or hard work or creativity or plain diligence.

In the face of inevitable change, Collins believes success comes down to control and discipline. The book focuses on 10X companies which are companies that outperform their industry averages by at least 10 times. Interestingly, these companies displayed 3 fundamental behaviours:

  1. Fanatic discipline and a solid focus on achieving their goals
  2. Empirical creativity – an obsession with facts rather than opinion
  3. Productive paranoia – constant working to fuelling preparation and precaution

The research around organisational behaviour really highlights how the back to basics approach still works, i.e. hitting well defined targets, demonstrating both resolve and control and proving resistant to a changing marketplace through behaving consistently.

An important lesson is that innovation is not always the best route to success. The brash risk-takers didn’t demonstrate sustainability. What determined an organisation’s success is how it prepared for both good and bad luck.

There are a lot of similarities between what Collins is saying and the Disney Strategy. Watch out for this on the next blog.

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