When organisations want to transform, they usually approach it in a linear fashion. All the way from strategy and preparation, to implementation and reinforcement. This keeps things manageable. Or so it seems.
Reality often proves to be much less controllable, because the organization is part of (and in itself) a complex ecosystem filled with direct and indirect influences and interrelations. Upside of this fact is that it opens up the way for a much faster and less costly way to future proof an organization: by giving a small group of Innovation Leaders the time, space and facilities to do what they do best.
An excellent illustration of this principle can be found at Yellowstone National Park. When a small pack of wolves was reintroduced in the park, the complete ecosystem was rearranged. Not just the deer population, being the wolf's natural prey, was influenced. Indirectly beavers, bears, birds and lots of other animals not beginning with a -b were affected.
Vegetation improved radically and, to top things off, the flow of rivers and streams changed and became more stable. All as a result of the reintroduction of a pack wolves. And imagine how difficult it would have been to plan this major evolution of the ecosystem in advance!
So, following this metaphor, who exactly are the Innovation Leaders, the wolves, in your organization? If you look closely at the video you will see that the first thing that happened. was that they shook up the deer community, which formed the ruling majority. The deer used up too big a part of the resources and diminished the diversity of the ecosystem. Not hard to see the parallels inside some organizations.
Trying to find them within upper management or your MD programs, which are filled with high potentials, won't necessarily work. These are much more like alpha deer than wolves. Innovation Leaders are a different breed. More complex and creative, definitely non-conformist, a-political and driven to bring change.
At the same time Innovation Leaders possess a Global Orientation that helps them bring the right change to secure a healthy future for the whole. They are definitely not rebels or revolutionaries for the sake of revolution itself.
As the video illustrates, it doesn't take many wolves to bring about a radical ecological improvement. And that is as it should be. No stable organization can be made-up of a large number of Innovation Leaders. But it does need a small pack of them to keep the organization fresh and continuously evolving. And yes, you do have to give them time and space and let them do what they do best. Even if it hurts a bit every now and then.
If you want to introduce a pack of Innovation Leaders in your organization and need help in finding, supporting and containing them, we can facilitate this for you. Just click here.