Strong Leaders in the Context of Innovation

Strong Leaders in the Context of InnovationI have often said that Apple is a bad example for learning on innovation because it is a very unique company (at least it was during the leadership of Steve Jobs).

Since it was/is such a unique company, we should be careful on their innovation moves as they would be difficult to apply to a “normal” company. Well, I still believe there is some truth to this, but a recent lunch with Roberto Verganti and others made me re-think my position here.

We can of course always learn from unique companies and one thing that really stands out from Apple is that you a need a strong leader to make things happen.

In the context of innovation, a strong leader must be able to gather input from many different pools of thoughts and interests and then set the direction for the company. It takes a visionary leader to develop a visionary company that makes an inpact in our world.

A strong leader also understands that the company itself cannot change the world. Once the direction has been set, it must be also be humble enough to bring in external partners and thus “democratize” innovation to some extent. This is where “old-school” strong leaders often fail.

I have often said and written that we need a more holistic approach to innovation (go beyond products and technologies while also innovating on the innovation process itself) and with this we also have a need for more holistic leaders.

I believe they are now starting to pop up as as this happens, we can continue to appreciate a lesson given by Apple and Job. It is that innovative companies require strong leadership. Your thoughts?


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2 Responses to Strong Leaders in the Context of Innovation

  1. Pingback: Strong Leaders in the Context of Innovation | D...

  2. Marshall Barnes says:

    OK Stefan, try this on for size – nothing matters…

    OK , what does that mean? It means that innovative companies can function a number of ways and they do. You could take the statement – “innovative companies require strong leaders” and turn it on its head by just adding “hip” to the end of “leaders”. In other words, instead of a single leader it could be a small group, or a duo, or whatever.

    Another thing, democracy is overrated. It’s used as a fix for becoming stale, too stuck in a rut, but what if that doesn’t happen? Also, the idea that a company can’t change the world isn’t a rule, it’s a challenge that is usually left unmet, but that’s all. IBM didn’t change the world? The Edison company? Ford Motor Car? The Virginia, Plymouth and London Companies?

    I have a question – how many companies have you started and actually run? What product or service did you create and deliver?

    Just a question…

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