It doesn’t happen by itself.
Disruption definitely doesn’t just happen. Someone has to take some very bold action.
In this post, we are wrapping up a six-part series on tapping the unseen in 2019. We have discussed appreciating the opportunity, finding potential by shifting perspective, developing your ability to see opportunities, guiding your team and building a team of collaborators. In this article, we discuss taking the disruptive action at the perfect time.
Types of Action
The innovator, like the artist, uses different actions at different times to do what no one else has ever done. Let’s look at three.
I’ll use the example of Mt. Rushmore because it reflects the seemingly impossible vision and the action needed to make it a reality. While we won’t go into all the details that led to an ordinary mountain in a remote part of the country becoming a national icon, we will examine three types of action needed to carve the mountain. Along the way, I’ll challenge you to take similar actions to tap the unseen in 2019.
Gutzon Borglum used dynamite for 90% of the work in carving Mt. Rushmore. That is pretty forceful action. His team drilled holes, set the dynamite and blew the granite off the mountain. That was the best way to create this iconic national monument because it would have taken far too long with a hammer and chisel.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that we just go blow things up. Borglum was meticulous in his planning, knowing exactly where to place the dynamite and the level of the charge. This required knowing the mountain intimately. He knew the sculpture would last if it faced south and had a certain type of rock (granite.) Even more, he knew what was good granite and what wouldn’t last. From there he had to map out the sculpture and position the blast carefully. Within that process, his team would spend years making smaller blasts. He knew it couldn’t be done with one bold blast.
In the same way, innovators often need to make a bold move that requires forceful action. The seemingly impossible idea isn’t going to emerge from the mountain of ordinary ideas and expectations without a bold action.
What bold action must be taken to create your vision?
Innovators, like Borglum, know that great innovations don’t happen with one big blast. It is a series of bold moves.
Are you prepared to make a series of bold moves?
Borglum was committed to the project but was also willing to start over. Early in the project, Jefferson was to the viewer’s left of Washington. However, as blasting progressed, they discovered the rock was not stable. So they blasted the progress on Jefferson off the mountain and repositioned him to the viewer’s right.
Maybe the boldest action an innovative leader can take is to say they were wrong and start over (on at least part of the project.) It is tempting to continue but not if it will threaten the ultimate vision of the project.
Are you willing to take the bold action and start over to ensure your ultimate success?
The rest of the carving was done with smaller actions designed to smooth away the rough rock and then fine-tune the polishing of the monument. This was actually two stages that together amounted to only 10% of the process. But as you can imagine, it was critical to creating the legacy. Whenever visitors see it today, they don’t see the roughly carved view but the finished one
Innovators know there will be a 2.0. and even a 3.0. They recognize the smoothing and polishing will continue as long as the product or service is viable.
What smoothing needs to be done to your innovation?
What fine-tuning do future customers expect?
Mt. Rushmore isn’t finished but to almost everyone who sees it, it doesn’t matter. When Borglum died and World War II broke out, work was suspended and ultimately declared finished. Even though Borglum had envisioned a much more complete carving, those funding the project said, “good enough.”
Often as innovative leaders, we want to do more but circumstances require that we stop. While we may vehemently object, in the end, maybe the customers, like current visitors to Mt. Rushmore, don’t really care because what they have is far better than what they would have had. In other words, they don’t know the difference and, if they do, it doesn’t matter.
At what point are you willing to rest, calling it good enough?
At what point will your customers be delighted even though the project isn’t finished in your mind?
Loren Murfield, Ph.D.
I work with leaders and organizations to think bigger and reach higher to find breakthrough success. This is a process that I can help you learn. One of the ways I help clients is by guiding them through 11 Disruptive Trends. Begin the process today by contacting me.