1. Innovation always starts with why. Apple, which is hailed as this unbelievable innovative organization, well, they don't have a lock on the talent and they don't have a lock on the resources. Other organizations can hire the same smart, clever, innovative people. The difference is, Apple tells people why they come to work, and this is what drives innovation. Long before the Apple existed, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak invented something called the Little Blue Box, which allowed people to avoid paying long-distance rates on their phone bills. They were challenging the existing status quo monopoly phone company. Then they started Apple and they challenged IBM, Big Blue, the existing status quo monopoly computer platform. Then Microsoft and then the music industry and then the phone industry. And the reason is, Jobs doesn't come to work every day and tell people, come up with a better computer, be more innovative. What do you do? You add more RAM. You change the colour. What he says is, find an existing status quo monopoly industry and give people a simple alternative. They don't have to do it that way just because it's always happened that way. And that's where innovation comes from. It's about asking people to do things. It's about questions. In so many organizations, the population of the company asks a manager a question, so you have lots of questions and only one perspective for the answer. In great and innovative organizations it's the leader who asks the people questions. How do we solve these big problems? And then it's the massive quantity of answers that actually is when innovation happens, and it's how those different people work together to actually drive an organization or society forwards.

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  2. Some companies don't want to follow the why and they choose not to follow the why, because they think that they can make more or do better by ignoring it. There's an irony to this, which is that when organizations follow the why and when they know why they get up every day, why their company exists, why they tell their employees that come to work in terms beyond the products and services, those companies actually do better. The problem is, the results you see aren't necessarily immediate. They usually are, which is, again, another irony. But this is just the irony of this thing. Because the why exists in the part of the brain that controls behaviour but not language, it's difficult to talk about. Because it controls emotional thoughts but not rational thoughts, it's harder to measure. It's easy to measure whats. You can measure money, you can measure products sold, you can do a survey. And even though most surveys or when you ask people what they like, people don't have the ability to tell you, so they're useless anyway. It's just because there is an element of faith that’s involved, and this is the real reason why it's ignored. Not because the results aren't there, it's because there's a question of 'belief' that's included.

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  3. Some people have the natural capacity to start with why. Leadership, like anything else, is a skill. Some people are born with it, and some people have to work very very hard to develop it. There of course are a few people who are born brilliant football players. Who knows what it is, it's in their genes and they are great, and if they work just a little bit, they can really advance. And there are others who don't necessarily have the same kind of 'natural gift', as we call it, but they have an amazing work ethic and they can work super hard and they can become very very good and compete in the same field. Leadership is exactly the same. Some have natural capacity, and if they're lucky enough to follow it, they can become great and inspiring leaders. And some people can learn it. This is the great thing about this concept of why, that it's entirely learnable, and like any skill, it just requires lots and lots and lots of practice.

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  4. We're human. We're imperfect and we're complicated and we're difficult, and the relationships we have aren't clear and they're messy, and this is the beauty of being human. We are horribly imperfect. And the best relationships we have, this is why we talk about 'vulnerability', is when you're willing to show your imperfections to someone. This is where trust emerges. When you're willing to show your imperfections to someone, and they're willing to share their imperfections with you, then you can work together for the greater good. If we try and pretend to, then nobody needs you and you don't need anybody, apparently. So of course there's conflict. You know, do you trust your gut or do you do what your parents tell you to do? Should you do what's right or should you do what will get you the promotion? We're filled with conflict, and sometimes we choose right and sometimes we choose wrong. And hopefully all those things together continue to inform those gut decisions as we grow older. But yes, of course it's difficult and of course it's messy.

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  5. Thomas Edison said that vision without execution is hallucination. You can have all the inspiration in the world, but if you don't do anything with it, then what good is it? At the same time, just doing things doesn't mean you're going in a direction, it just means you're doing something. There's this great study that was done where they took people into the woods and they told them, go north and get out of the woods. Now, when they gave people a compass, they could easily get out, they just follow the direction and out they go. Absent a compass, even when people were convinced, and they told them, just go in a straight line, even when people were convinced that they were going in a straight line, in reality they were going in circles. And this is what a why provides. It is a compass direction. However, if you don't take action, even if you know the direction you need to go in, you're not going to move. But if you don't know why you do what you do and you're only taking actions, you'll probably end up going in circles. So one is not more important than the other. I don't believe the why is more important than the other two levels. It is as important and you need all three.

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Faculty session 01

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