After recently been privileged to listen to Prof. Danny Sampson from Melbourne University talking about a significant business study he had led on Innovation, I was empowered to write a few words on the subject – well three subjects to be exact: Leadership, Innovation and the combination of the two! “What has any of this got to do with making wine?” I hear you ask! Absolutely everything….
Let’s start (very) briefly with Leadership. Leadership is not management! Leadership is about effectiveness, management covers efficiency. Leadership is about doing the right things, management is about doing things right. To create a successful business, organisation, even family we need to set a direction to follow, both when things are going well and similarly during crises. Development of vision, strategy, goals and plans is all part of the process. If you don’t know where you are going, you will end up nowhere special.
One of the biggest learning points for me was the fact that innovation relates to much much more than simply a new product with a new point of interest. Innovation starts even as far back as the business model itself. We can innovate – do things differently to meet our customers requirements – at every step in the business from design through production, packaging, storage, distribution, marketing, sales channel, customer engagement, invoicing, etc. If it’s legal and ethical, why wouldn’t you look at it? I hear the comment so often “I wish they would innovate in manufacturing” stated as code for ”get the cost down”. I wonder if those who make such statements have ever stopped to think about how they could innovate themselves to create extra customer value. Innovation covers everything in a business.
And so how are the two related? One of the other sides of leadership that we often forget is that leadership is about people. The best leaders I know also focus on creating the right environment for their people to excel and innovate. The leader is responsible not only for establishing the direction, but also creating the culture that can deliver that goal. The world is full of immense talent, which sadly doesn’t get used to the fullest. To make our organisations special, our people must have the space to use their talent. Creating that “space to innovate” is also leadership. And we need that just as much in the wine business (if not more) as any other industry.
Let’s lead AND innovate…