Innovation will never be birthed from a process. It must start with people. To create an innovative organization, you must create an ethos of innovation throughout the entire organization.
We've all heard the story before. A nearly mythical leader (often the founder) creates a phenomenally innovative organization. Following a meteoric rise, they pass the baton on to the next generation of leaders. But then, one day, we wake up and realize the organization is barely a shadow of its former self. What happened?
The Founder's Evolution culminates in Stage 7: The Visionary Founder. At this stage, the Visionary Founder's legacy is truly established. But at the end of the day, it's not about how skilled you are, how amazing your organization is, or how much you are worth. Instead, it's about something far more meaningful, something far more powerful.
Most Founders never make it to Stage 6 of their Founder's Evolution, and they never experience the joy and freedom of becoming a True Owner. They also never discover the most valuable asset a True Owner has because it certainly isn't cash (even though they have a whole lot of it).
In stage 5 of your evolution as a founder, you finally take on a title you've been using incorrectly for a long time: Chief Executive. This stage is tremendously rewarding as you lead through others and build an organization whose success will outlast you. However, some soul-searching and a few essential strategies are needed to get there.
Stage 4 of the Founder's Evolution is the single greatest shift in the entire journey. Your entire history as a founder and a leader up to this point has taught you the skill of winning the game on the field. Unfortunately, very little of that matters in Stage 4. In fact, the better you are at the earlier stages, the harder it will be for you to embrace this next phase in your journey.
We hit the ground running. It was September 2008 when we relaunched our business, and although much of the world was in the tumult of the financial crisis, we were on fire. The relaunch had gone stunningly well, even though we had inherited some severe problems from the previous owners. We had debt-ridden relationships with …
If you were to go out and ask any random startup entrepreneur how the new business is going, you would get a huge smile followed by a whole list of superlatives. “It’s wonderful.” “It’s amazing.” “I’m loving it.” Simultaneously you feel like all your life has prepared you for this moment, AND like you are way in over your head because you are. And despite the smile, you show everyone around you, inside, you are plagued by the question: What was I thinking? Did you make a mistake, or are you on your way to the success you’ve dreamt of?
The first stage of the Founder's Evolution happens before you become a Founder. Without this first stage, the journey never is. While it is existentially vital, the first stage is far from comfortable. In fact, it is marked by dissatisfaction. It is by definition uncomfortable. And it needs to be.
The demands of leadership are constantly changing. At the ground level, it can feel like you've been blindsided or entirely off the map altogether. But our evolution as leaders follows a predictable pattern. And if you know and understand that pattern, you'll excel as a leader with a fraction of the heartaches and headaches.
You did it! By everyone else's standards, you've built a thriving, successful business. You've succeeded where 95% who've tried have failed. You've turned your idea into a thriving enterprise. But there's a problem. And whether or not you have words for it, you are feeling it.
The only thing harder than achieving greatness is sustaining it. You have to simultaneously maintain what you've built while also moving on to something greater. It's easier said than done. Despite the challenge, in this article, you'll learn two key strategies to improve upon the success you've worked so hard to achieve.