Class Introduction


Leading Innovation


Lesson Info

Class Introduction

I wanna open this little segment by telling a short little story, because this is about leading innovation. Imagine a guy named David Kelley. So David Kelley is the CEO and the founder and the chairman of a preeminent design firm called Ideo. You may have heard of Ideo. Now Ideo makes all kinds of brilliant inventions, so if you are Fender Guitars, or Ikea, or the city of New York, or Wells Fargo Bank, or even The North Face, you go to Ideo for that next entrancing, wonderful, amazing kind of innovation, right? So, as you can imagine, the people at Ideo, they're brilliant! These are engineers, and coders, and designers, and user experience people, who are off the charts, who go there to work and do amazing stuff and put out the next killer magical user experience for all these preeminent firms. But here's the key. Just because you fill a room with amazing, brilliant people, with all kinds of different disciplines and ideas, doesn't mean the magic necessarily happens by magic. So here's...

the interesting thing that David Kelley does. When things are not quite going right, when the dialogue is not syncing, when they're not asking the right questions, when the right kind of expertise is not in the room, David Kelley spends a lot of time at the front. At the front of the room, aligning priorities, aligning a sense of purpose and mission, getting the culture and the environment just right, to kind of accelerate the next iteration of what they're trying to do. But when things are going well, when the right coders, the right magic is in the room, he'll slip to the back, and he might ask a question or two from the back of the room, and if things are going awesome, he'll slip out the door. He calls it managing by walking out of the room, and in microcosm, what we've done in that little story, is we've put the right people in the right place, aligned with a sense of purpose and mission, the impact they're trying to create, and we've created this culture, where they have a sense of autonomy, a sense of discretionary control to allow it to unfold. So, this is what we're gonna do today. We've got three primary segments in this little class. The first is about creating a sense of purpose, okay? So what we're gonna do in this segment is we're gonna bring out super, super special guest Aaron Hurst, who is joining us, he's the CEO of Imperative, he's dedicated his life to help people understand their sense of purpose, and align it with their work. Then we're gonna do a segment on the right culture, the right environment, the right circumstance, the right landscape inside the environment, to allow innovation to emerge and burgeon. And then finally, we gotta get in action. We gotta do something, because creativity without execution is not innovation, right? We have to do it, we have to put it in motion. So, here's my promise to you watching, and here in the room, these are some of the things we're gonna do together. We will move out of a state of arrested decay, we will build our own personal purpose statement together, we're gonna do this in real time, we'll learn what a purpose statement is and create that. We're gonna adopt a growth, not a fixed mindset, which you may be familiar with. We're gonna connect with the impact of our work. Now this is super important, because if we don't connect with the end result, the downstream impact of what we're doing, well then, why are we doing it? Why are we doing what we're doing? We need to create safe environments around us, adopt question thinking. Question thinking, what is that? Odd expression. (laughing) Encourage a sense of positive deviance. So there are outliers in our organization, doing odd, deviant things, and somehow, we want to hold them up, and cherish those, encourage them, embolden them, emulate them. We think of deviance as a negative thing, it can be very positive, and we should cherish it. And finally, we are going to act our way into a new way of thinking. I like to say, you can't really think your way into a new way of acting. You have to act your way into a new way of thinking, because in the acting, in the doing, that's when the unexpected happens. So let me tell you this little story first. We're gonna rewind to 1859. In 1859, there's a guy named William Bodey. He's a cowboy, he's a entrepreneur, he's a gold hunter. And he hikes high up into the Sierra Mountains of California on his horse, and he discovers gold. And within 20 boom town, blistering, explosive years of growth, there's 10,000 people living in that town, and they had churches, and saloons, and a bar, and they even had a railroad, that they built from the nearby town of Mono Mills to truck in, railroad in all the building materials to keep up with their explosive growth. They had pool halls, there were mansions on the outskirts of town, there was a schoolhouse of course, this beautiful church, and then a funny thing happened. 20 years on from that, Bodie California was declared a ghost town. (makes whoosh noise) And the people just vanished. They slowly disappeared, and exited, just kinda left. But the curious thing about Bodie, California today, is you can go there. The National Parks service maintains Bodie, California in this state of what they call arrested decay. Arrested decay is this sort of state where you neither allow it to fall further into disrepair, but nor do you improve upon it. So if you go there, you can find the cans still on the shelves in the grocery store, you can see the books still laid out where they were, you can even see the last markings on the school chalkboard, just before (makes poof noise) everyone vanished out of town. And that analogy, I just used the analogy because I think of this state of arrested decay, this state that we get into after time, it's this state of deep complacency, where we get stuck in a learned helplessness state, and many organizations get stuck in this state as well. Here's an interesting study from Bain, "When we recently surveyed 362 firms, we found that 80% of leaders believed that their organization delivered a 'superior product.'" and meanwhile, "Only 8% of their own customers agreed with that statement." It's this state of deep complacency, where you're celebrating that past success, and you're no longer taking risk to move forward, congratulating yourselves, back slapping, this is the same syndrome where most of us think we're in the top half of best drivers out there. (audience laughing) Or, I read this interesting study about, 86% of Harvard NBA candidates think that they're better looking than their classmates. Yeah, I mean that's a sweet place to be, if you're constantly better looking, and better than anyone around you, but that's a deep place of complacency, or inversely, overwhelmed by the noise, and the volatility, and the ambiguity, and we're constantly tethered to these devices, I don't have mine of course on me, but because we're tethered by technology, it's ubiquitous in our lives, and we take it home, and we model it for our kids, and then our kids grow with this sense of constant connectivity, and you remember, an iPhone's, what, only 10 years old? And yet, it's so pervasive in our culture that it's ingrained, that we're waiting for our next dopamine hit. I did something in my house, I installed this Google WiFi mesh network, and it comes with a little app so you can set timers on it, so, I have teenagers, and so I set bedtime timeouts, when it goes off at night and stuff. Sure enough, nine, nine thirty at night, my son, he's sitting on the couch watching I don't know what, and he's like, "What? Dad, what happened?" 'Cause I killed it of course. But that kind of forces him into a human to human state, that's what I call it, so he has to come up out of the basement, and I say Will, it's time for some human time. And then he wanders around the kitchen and tries to figure out what to say, and then he says to me, "How long is human time?" (audience laughing) And I said, "That's exactly the point. It's that long, it's as long as it takes you to engage another human and develop those kinds of skills." So a lot of what we're talking about today, in this time together, is the value of that human to human connectivity, right? In the algorithms, the bots, the AI, the internet of things, our human to human empathy and creativity, is the next generation killer app. So then you go to work, and your boss and you organization wants you to participate in innovation initiatives, but then they put all these roadblocks and stuff in front of it.

Class Description

For business leaders and managers, finding the key to creating a high-performing, innovative team can feel impossible. Most of the time, you’re too stressed, exhausted and depleted to do anything more than just get by. Or you might even secretly question your ability to ever be a great leader.

This course on leadership innovation provides you with a clear roadmap for creating an environment that inspires trust, cohesiveness, agility and innovation. You’ll learn the simple actions you can do every day to bring out the best in yourself and those around you.

Shawn Hunter, author of “Small Acts of Leadership: 12 Intentional Behaviors That Lead to Big Impact,” will show you how listening intently, acting with kindness, showing gratitude, embracing challenges and other actions can help you grow into a successful, impactful leader.

In this course, you’ll learn how to:

  • Build your self-confidence.
  • Create learning goals instead of performance goals.
  • Use social diversity and social risk to drive innovative thinking.
  • Get rid of fear among your team members.
  • Escape the trap of “arrested decay.”
  • Turn great ideas into concrete actions.
  • Develop your own leadership narrative.


Steven Seiller

These topics are profoundly impactful and are truly the magic of intentional change! I do wish this class is at least a half-day longer, because who doesn't need more magic to fuel your passions?!?

Manisha Dayal