Three Success Factors Affect Innovation

By Jeri T Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International    5/17/2012

Takeaways: Following the three key success factors of finding opportunities, mobilizing support for them, and seizing those opportunities, organizations stay open to change and create a culture of innovation.

In their book, Seeing David in the Stone, James B. and Joseph E. Swartz identify the 12 actions of the great innovators and achievers throughout time.Success Factors: Finding & Seizing Great Opportuniti9esThese are broken into three areas, each with a set of four actions:

  • Finding Great Opportunities
  • Mobilizing Support
  • Seizing Great Opportunities

In Finding Great Opportunities, one of the keys is to differentiate yourself for opportunity. What is meant by this is to understand your passions and talents, and see where the potential rewards might be in those areas. Then search within them for opportunities where all three are high.

Three Key Success Factors:

  • Be passionate about something
  • Be good at it
  • Potential rewards are high

For example, young Einstein became a telegraph operator because he had a passion for that, he was good at it, and it was the latest technology of his time.

Another characteristic of great achievers is that they never stop searching. An example the book cites is the story of Colonel Sanders.

All his life he moved from sales job to sales job and paycheck to paycheck. At age 65 he found his opportunity when he moved to Corbin, KY to run a gas station. To increase sales, he started serving his special fried chicken. Business boomed until a new interstate highway bypassed Corbin.

He decided that his passion was cooking, he made better fried chicken than anyone else, and he loved to sell – Kentucky Fried Chicken was born. He traveled the country calling on restaurants. He would cook each owner a batch of chicken, then sell a franchise. Ten years later, at age 75, he had 600 franchisees. He never stopped until he found a way to differentiate himself from the crowd, and when he did, he found tremendous opportunity.

Another key differentiator is being willing to change the ways in which you differentiate yourself. When one of the three key success factors is no longer valid, you have to be willing to change in order to achieve greatness yet again.

Organizations can become great when they are led by people who themselves have learned to differentiate themselves personally and follow the three key success factors. By creating that focus and being willing to alter course when one factor is no longer valid, an organization can continuously improve and renew itself.

A Lesson in Change – Saving the St. Lucia Parrot

By Jeri T Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International   11/19/2011

Takeaways: Changing people’s actions requires changing how they identify with the change. This can be done using the identity or the consequences model.

St. Lucia ParrotThe St. Lucia parrot has a vivid turquoise blue face, lime green wings and a  beautiful red shield on its breast. It exists only on St. Lucia, where the people frequently ate it or used it as a pet. By 1977, there were only 100 in existence.

In their book, Switch, Chip and Dan Heath give the example of Paul Butler who succeeded in bringing the St. Lucia Parrot from the brink of extinction to nearly 700 parrots. In the process he changed St. Lucians’ attitudes about the parrot from one of disinterest to one of national pride and identity. On the heels of that success, he moved from St. Lucia to St. Vincent to replicate the process, saving the St. Vincent parrot from near extinction as well.

How did he do this?

According to the authors, one way to motivate people to “switch” is to shrink the change, making people feel “big” in comparison to the issue at hand. But in Butler’s case, he grew the people. The challenge was huge. He focused on making the people proud of their parrot, a bird that exists only on the island nation of St. Lucia.

Research by James March, a political science professor at Stanford University, confirms that when people make choices, they do so based on one of two models of decision making: the consequences model or the identity model.

The consequences model weighs the cost vs. benefits of choosing a particular option and selecting the one that creates the most satisfaction.

The identity model, on the other hand, is based on answering three questions: Who am I?  What kind of situation is this? What would someone like me do in this situation? There is no consideration of costs or benefits. Instead the focus is on changing a person’s identity or what that person identifies with.

In the case of the St. Lucia parrot, the change was from disinterest in the bird’s plight to one of pride in their identity symbolized by the parrot. It didn’t happen overnight – in fact it took several years.

This example is useful as it relates to changing an organization’s culture. To change the culture, you need to change people’s attitudes and behavior. You need to capture their hearts and change how they identify with the organization. To do so, you need to use the identity model of change – to make the change a matter of identity rather than consequence. 

This means answering the question: What’s In It For Me? Every person in the organization evaluates new processes and procedures based on the answer to this question. By showing the staff in the organization how the new process or procedure will benefit as a member of the organization, you change how they identify with the organization and its operations. The consequences model might also apply depending on the situation.