21st century leaders foster talent, not scale

I’m starting to (finally) get back into reading great stuff from around the web, fueling some new thinking. I stumbled across this nugget from consultants with frequently insightful writing:

…the rate of learning, innovation, and performance improvement within the institution must match (or exceed) that of the surrounding environment if the institution is to survive (or thrive). Given that innovation is inherently a human activity–one performed by talented individuals–it follows that talent will pull institutions into the 21st century.

That’s because a rapid rate of innovation cannot be programmed from above. At best what institutional leaders can do is to create the environments–the “creation spaces”–that foster innovation and faster learning. But here’s the rub: many of these institutional leaders are caught in the mindsets of the previous generation of infrastructures and the related assumption that scalable efficiency is the key to success. Talent, on the other hand, is under increasing pressure to get better faster and will either leave institutions that cannot help them or become catalysts for change within those institutions.

[full article]

Let’s just say I can vouch for the above quote 100%.

Questions for public media firms, leaders and talent:

  • Does your corporate culture, as led from the top, regularly share, explain and praise positive examples of media innovation both inside and outside the firm?
  • Do stakeholders in your firm’s success understand the risks of stasis in a rapidly-changing media and business environment?
  • Do you have a plan, a process or even just a notion of how to ensure everyone in your firm is learning substantial new things every year, every quarter?
  • Which activity absorbs more of your time: protecting sacred cows or fulfilling a mission in a presently-relevant way?
  • Is your firm innovating in media creation and delivery at a rate that matches or exceeds the media changes in your service area? (note that media changes occur at variable rates based on where you are)
  • Is your solution to a changing media environment becoming “too big to fail” (AIG) or becoming “too vital to ignore” (NPR)?
  • Are you leading a tribe or building an audience?