Why innovative people fail (and how to beat these traps)

by | Oct 12, 2012

“Ideas are easy … Execution is really hard.”

That’s the word according to self-confessed “idea monkey” Mike Maddock, who co-wrote Free the Idea Monkey … To Focus on What Matters Most!

In an interview with Forbes, Maddock says it is essential good innovators find someone who complements them: a partner whose strengths lie in the innovator’s weaknesses. Consider the billion dollar partnerships of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak or Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

Mike Maddock.

Maddock reveals he went through three assistants because he kept hiring people who were too similar to him. A friend who was a recruitment agent hired someone who excelled in the areas where Maddock was weak. Their partnership is still going strong one decade later.

Idea monkeys need to work with “ringleaders”, people who keep things running and avoid common problems faced by startups (burnout) and established corporations (stagnation).

Established companies have an average lifespan of 40 years. They may be efficient and process-focused, but a lack of new innovation means some may go the way of Napster.

Maddock recommends surrounding yourself with positive people and removing deadweights. Three types of people should be fired: Victims, non-believers (who may say they’re supportive, but behind your back they’ll criticise your idea) and know-it-alls, because a learner is always more preferable than someone who thinks they have seen and done everything.

It is also important to hire for curiosity. Maddock asks potential recruits about something they have discovered recently. It doesn’t matter what they have discovered. What matters is their passion, their sense of curiosity. People with a sense of wonder make great innovators.

Read the Forbes article.

Jeffrey Tobias

About Jeffrey Tobias

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well-known startups.

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Managing Director, The Strategy Group

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well known startups. Jeffrey’s corporate background includes leading global innovation strategy at Cisco, working with large corporates such as Adobe, Westpac, Telstra, Woolworths, and Perpetual.

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