No More Waiting For Godot


In 2009, the idea of a single leader behind whom we follow in one main direction is CRAZY. Instead, great organizations, great classrooms, great churches and families must tap their bio-diversity of everyday leaders, getting contributions from throughout the organization – regardless of rank, seniority, gender, age, etc. Great organizations – and we have some awesome examples in Michigan – seek and expect value and innovation from all their people – their everyday leaders. Hopefully, your organization is becoming more collaborative, freeing, supporting, and challenging, so that you are engaged and important and productive.

But, you don’t have to wait. This is a time for innovation at every level. If you don’t want to get laid off, watch your unit or company go under, or feel frustrated that they keep asking you to do more with less, then innovate and produce phenomenal value. Take it on yourself to move things forward. Here are some great ways to feed your mind to think and act innovatively:

  • Read about innovation! Check out last month’s Fast Company It’s about the 50 most innovative companies. Get infected with the spirit of Ideo and Amazon and Hulu. They’ll lubricate your mind. (Actually, every issue of Fast Company gives me ideas and an attitude of innovation. You can subscribe here.)
  • Start to Twitter at People post little nuggets with great information and leads. You’ll have to learn to avoid people who are telling you things like “I’m petting the cat,” or “I’m going to the bathroom,” but with a little work you can find people who love to share priceless information and innovative ideas. If you want to learn a ton in a week, go to, open an account (free and takes seconds) and follow GuyKawasaki, or go to his site www.guykawasaki to get started. Don’t just follow:
  • Share nuggets of your expertise – information you have: great websites, videos, powerpoints on topics that you know well. You’ll rather quickly start to develop followers (I guess then you’re a leader J ) and build a community of people sharing information. Since you probably don’t have a travel and training budget any more, it’s a great way to meet people and learn new things.

Don’t just learn. Innovate. Act. So, for example, if you want your organization to generate more revenue, then SELL – whether you have the title of salesperson or not. Here’s an example. If you’re a Michiganian or a Michigander and you want Michigan to come screaming back, then invite people to come back to Michigan to vacation. Through email, Facebook, or Twitter, you can share the incredible Michigan tourism ads that make us all remember what it’s like to be “up north.” Invite a cousin, sibling, friend, business relation to come (back) and see why we’re nuts about this place! The MEDC has created a tourism campaign, but we have 10 million salespeople who can help spread the story.

What could you do – from where you are – if you thought, “I am the leader. I do not wait. I am the leader, and I have to learn. I am the leader, the world is changing, and I’ve got to innovate.” Take charge, and

Lead with your best self,


p.s.  For more on innovation, listen to the Everyday Leadership show, Saturday from 7-9 AM. Guests include execs from Google and ePrize!

audio: No More Waiting for Godot

  • You are “right on” Dan regarding the need to thrive in this hyper-competitive environment by innovating more and faster.
    Google may be the highest-profile example of this new global philosophy.

    This week’s NEW YORKER magazine has an interesting innovation article by Malcolm Gladwell about how David can beat Goliath by substituting effort for ability–and substituting effort for ability turns out to be a winning formula for underdogs in all walks of life.

    More about why unconventional wisdom wins at:

  • Dan:

    I agree that we all have to be innovative. Michigan is a great place and spurring interest in Michigan is needed now more than ever. I hope the government can act along side the people in attracting manufacturing to MI with tax incentives. Alternate energy companies are a good start. We need to be better than the other states in attracting new business especially manufacturing. I understand that one big hurdle is the hold that the union has on the state and the reluctance of manufacturing to come here when other states are providing a much more freindly business / labor environment. It is my hope that Big Labor will heed your advice also and come to realize that business is not the enemy and if they continue to hamstring companies into unrealistic labor deals then we are all going to continue to hemorage jobs until there is nothing left.

  • Dan,

    It is a wonderful, crazy, and for some, imaginary organization described in your current posting. One of the reasons I am currently between jobs is that two organizations for whom I worked did listen to their people, but only some of their people…those with special qualifications. An unnamed educational institution eliminated jobs (including mine) in part because they only listened to those with proper academic qualifications – advanced degrees – when many of their problems existed below the academic water line. A non-profit let go most of their staff (including me) in part because the only voices they could hear met certain social criteria. I know this because innovations implemented after I left were the same ones I suggested, but were more acceptable coming from a high-priced consulting firm than from the hired help.

    There must be thousands of eager innovators in Michigan, currently languishing on unemployment benefits while potential employers struggle to find the economic success that could provide jobs for them. As part of the unemployment process in the great State of Michigan, I suggest that UIA (or someone in the state government) consider connecting the two.

    As part of the unemployment process, why not offer interested uemployment beneficiaries the opportunity to post their innovative ideas, improvement suggestions, and potential solutions to an on-line clearing house? Give them credit for their ideas, make these ideas available to companies and entrepreneurs willing to register for access, and when an idea is used successfully, pay a royalty or reward to the innovator and connect that person with the companies that benefit from the idea(s). Give them the voice they didn’t have because a previous employer was unwilling to listen. Let new and innnovative ideas connect with the people who can make the magic happen. Sharing ideas is great, but seeing them in action and reaping a reward for innovative thinking is even greater.

    Make Michigan part of an open forum on innovation that sees to it credit is given when it is due. Permit access to the owners of vast knowledge currently struggling to share their experience, but currently more concerned with keeping body and soul together.


  • I work in a school that advocates collaboration as a motto. I am constantly thinking of new ideas and ways to tackle the problems and issues that are present, but I am constantly squashed because I look at things differently. I want my school to be the best, have the best students and the best learning.

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