Have The Bravery and Courage to Innovate

Ever heard the expression, “Whoever fails at the most stuff wins.”? I hate, hate, hate, playing it safe, I hate the idea of not trying something, rather than risk failing. If you look at all of the great ones, the innovators, the creators, the developers, the people who have made significant changes in the world, they were all risk takers, and yes, they were all a little crazy!

When Tom Peters  talks about the  “Fast Failure Imperative” he is talking about trying a lot of stuff, failing, and then trying something else, all the time heading down the road to innovation.

Talking about innovators, this guy named Jeff Bezos (ever heard of him?) said famously, “What really matters is that companies that don’t continue to experiment – companies that don’t embrace failure –  eventually get in a desperate position where the only thing they can do is to make a ‘’Hail Mary” bet at the end.”

I have found over the years that there are two kinds of people. Those who play it safe and those who dare to try. The interesting thing is that those who dare to try, eventually succeed. In the end they are the ones who send a rocket ship to space and bring it back safely to be used again. They are the ones who find a way to turn around a DNA test in hours instead of days. They are the ones who find a way to build a circuit board in twenty-four hours. They are the ones who came up with a way to build many PCB part numbers on one panel. They are the ones who dare to dream and keep trying, and trying, and trying, until they achieve that dream.

And there are the others who, well, never get there.

In the words of the “Great One” Wayne Gretzky, “ I never made a shot I didn’t take.”

Why don’t people get that?

I see this all the time.

Salespeople who say, “I am not even going to try to get some business until we get back on schedule”

Engineers who say, “ Sure that new process might work, but then I have a friend who knew someone who tried it once and there were problems. Let’s let other people solve those problems before we bring it to our shop.”

Or my personal favorite, “If we keep sending out these sales emails someone is going to get mad” When they have sent out one thousand sales emails and two customers complained.

It boils down to having the guts, the courage to move forward where no one else has before. To be the first one to take the risk, if you are willing to do that, then you are willing yourself to succeed. Or at least have a chance to succeed. Remember what Gretzky said about trying.

As we leave one year and enter another, it’s time to have the courage to try new things. The world has changed since Covid, more than we could ever have imagined at the end of 2019. And it is up to us, the innovators, the daring ones and yes, the crazy ones to take risks, and not only adapt to those changes and challenges, but to ride the wave of them as well.

Here is a little something from Kevin Roberts the CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi World Wide in his book, Lovemarks. I would urge you to not only read but to also take a huge piece of white poster board and a red Magic Marker, write these words on that white poster board and hang it on your wall!


If it ain’t broke …Break it!

Hire crazies

Ask dumb questions

Pursue failure

Lead, follow …or get out of the way!

Spread confusion

Ditch the office

Read odd stuff

Avoid moderation

And let me add a few more:

Stop playing it safe

Read, read, read

If everyone else is doing it…do something else!

Nurture the “oddballs” in your organization, the ones who are a pain in the neck to manage.

Get to know as many people in your shop as much as possible. Start with the guy in shipping and then go to the guy who cleans the place up. Find out what they think. What are their ideas? You are not just buying their tasks; you’re buying their brains as well. Use them and treasure them. Everyone is capable of a great idea, heck many great ideas if they are encouraged.

And I leave you this year with one of my favorite quotes of all time. I know many of you have heard it before, but it needs to be repeated often. Post this on your wall as well.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Teddy Roosevelt

And that folks is real common sense