Creativity + Discipline = Profitable Growth

The headlines are filled with the virtues of innovative leadership. In times of rapid change, the mantra may be “innovate or die”. We applaud the big idea, just like the “big play” in sports. Headlines are captured by dunks and home runs. While they captivate our attention and energize the game they don’t guarantee wins. 

Creative approaches to the market are essential; companies who feel the status quo brought them to the dance and they choose to stick with what brung them can be sorely disappointed when they start sliding backwards. Often, if not moving forward, ground is being given to competitors. 

Creativity alone is not enough. The big play can work –when combined with basic discipline. Think about how often acquisitions don’t work–in fact, they fail more often than they work. Why? Great ideas but lack of sufficient diligence. Companies and their executives get enamored with what is supposed to happen, and fail to think through conflict of culture, weak or unvetted strategy or tactical level integration plans. 

Big ideas that customers don’t value won’t work. 
Great ideas without a viable economic engine are doomed. 
First to market isn’t always an advantage if market adaptation is slow. 

Innovation is exciting and almost always a necessity, but long term survival requires that it be linked to basic business discipline. 

Figure out how to make money with the new concept, don’t just hope it will.
Go at a speed you can do things well and sustain over time.
Find out if the market loves the idea as much as you do.
Manage resources in the good times to survive in the bad times.
Know, don’t guess, where the money comes from- which products and customers are profitable.
Assume there will be problems and have an early warning system.
Stay focused and don’t get distracted.
Be able to identify the 20% that makes the 80% impact.

Creative but disciplined is how to achieve breakthroughs– for the long term. 
Big ideas, done well! 

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