Dozens of senior executives at large organizations revealed to us in interviews that in most cases they did not feel personally responsible for coming up with innovations. They felt only a responsibility to “facilitate the process,” to make sure someone else in the company was doing it. But in the world’s most innovative companies, senior executives like Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Marc Benioff (salesforce.com), and A.G. Lafley (Procter & Gamble) did not just delegate innovation; they kept their own hands deep in the innovation process.
Leaders at companies with high innovation premiums, in fact, landed at about the 88th percentile on our Innovator’s DNA assessment, which measures the five skills of disruptive innovators: questioning, observing, networking, experimenting, and associational thinking.
Because disruptive leaders excelled at the Innovator’s DNA skills, they valued the same skills in other people. So much so that others within the organization felt that reaching top executive positions required personal innovation capability. This expectation helped foster an innovation focus throughout the company.
Apple’s performance under Steve Jobs powerfully illustrates that point. During Jobs’ first tenure at Apple from 1980–1985, he was personally involved in innovation and helped the company reach an innovation premium of 37%. Jobs, in fact, got key ideas for the Macintosh computer (mouse and GUI) during his visit to Xerox PARC. He recalled “being shown a rudimentary graphical user interface. It was incomplete, some of it wasn’t even right, but the germ of the idea was there. Within ten minutes, it was so obvious that every computer would work this way someday.” Jobs was so impressed that he took his entire programming team on a tour of PARC and returned to Apple hell-bent on developing a personal computer that both incorporated and improved upon the technologies he and his team saw. Jobs assembled a team of brilliant engineers, gave them the needed resources, and infused the Macintosh team with a vision of what was possible. That’s what an innovative leader does.
Moreover, they must actively populate their organizations with enough discovery-driven innovators to make innovation a team game that translates into tangible and sustainable innovation premiums
Two modes of innovation: Apple vs Google, Apple has an upper hand because leadership and doing everything centralized and collectively, not loosely and socially. Innovative DNA: Questioning, observing, experimenting and associating!