Innovation is a nice-to-have when things are going
well. But in a turbulent environment it is a necessity.
Strong leaders focus always on the three core activities of business,
with unrelenting clarity of purpose. This becomes imperative when times
are most challenging. The three activities are:
Operations – no matter what happens, the doors must be kept
open. New business must be sought. Existing customers must be cared
for. Promises and obligations need to be fulfilled. This is the solid
foundation upon which expansion or turnarounds must build.
Daily fire fighting – turmoil, obstacles, bottlenecks, logjams,
unforeseen difficulties, circumstantial challenges, all of these are
part and parcel of life. When each new storm arises there must be
resources to address them effectively. This is the raison d’�tre of
customer service. These distractions will not go away. Life is what happens to you while you’re
busy making other plans. – John Lennon. These disruptions must
be handled with care, establishing the integrity of your enterprise and
building the future interaction by interaction.
Strategy and its execution – this is the activity that will lift
your organization to a new level of performance, increasing customer
value while renewing your coffers. It is here that innovation lives and
breathes. It may impact operations and daily fire fighting, delivering
solutions and alleviating stress. But, it does not systematically and
reliably emerge unless resources are set aside for it: both time and
money. It needs a home, a place to be nurtured and developed so it can
grow into the powerhouse that will elevate you to an increased position
The first two, operations and daily fire fighting, are non-negotiable,
part of life. The third is optional. If there is ever competition
for resources among the three, strategy and its execution will always
come in third.
Therefore it is the leader’s job to see that the competition does not arise.
Strategic execution must have its own time and place. Then, you have a
chance for intentional growth.