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Special Event

For those of you who are in or close to the Tampa Bay Area, The Oxford Exchange is hosting a breakfast event on the topic of Innovation. Whitney Johnson, who's new book Disrupt Yourself will be on shelves next week, and I will be talking about how leaders and organizations can apply the elements of disruptive innovation. I've worked with Whitney on a couple of projects and it's sure to be a thought provoking morning. Click here for more details, and if you would like to attend, contact me directly as there are a few seats available.


Innovation continues to be one of everyone's favorite topics, and the ability to apply creativity to solving business and customer problems, or raise the bar to new standards is immensely valuable. One of the things I think companies (and individuals) forget is that a lot of innovations are not of the breakthrough variety. Many of them come in small increments. Little changes. Tiny adjustments. Each enhancement building upon others. Unlike disruptive innovation, which frequently approaches a business problem with a radically different approach, this innovation strategy is far less dramatic, but equally as powerful. In theory, it's called the aggregation of marginal gains. I can't find out who deserves attribution for the term (if you know, please contact me), but there are a lot of examples of it in practice.

Think of it this way. In any effort, there are a lot of ways to improve. As a business, a team, an athlete, or a leader becomes successful, the fundamentals of success are often in place. Most of the time it's obvious what to do when performance is lousy. But when performance is good, and exceptional is the goal, that's the perfect time to innovate and get creative about how to accelerate progress. Those innovations can be found in the minute details. A popular example of this can be found in the work of Dave Brailsford, the General Manager of the British cycling team, which had limited success prior to him taking over. His approach was to apply creative effort to all areas of performance; the best pillow to enhance rest for riders, teaching proper hand washing to minimize infection, and so forth. Things we'd likely never think of. The result, a lot of small improvements that together made a big difference and result in a handful of Tour de France victories.

Innovation has a lot of flavors. Our attention is often focused on the grand achievement, the new product, or the disruptive business model. It's frequently the less exciting, but very important small improvements that make those results happen. What are the incremental gains would help your business or your team? As a leader, are you doing what it takes to create a culture where that kind of innovation can thrive throughout your organization? If you want to read more on this, take a look at my Forbes article on this topic, Don't Innovate. Create a Culture of Innovation.

A slice of life balance             
  • While we are on the topic of incremental gains, what small improvements can you make in your life that will aid in your success? Bring you more enjoyment? Greater health or vitality? Connect you more with important people in your life? If you take a few minutes to think about this I suspect you'll find some good ones. Innovate a little.