How To Avoid The Trap of Success S13 Ep23

Once we have experienced that taste of success, we will do anything to experience it again but instead, we fall into the trap of success. Success leads us down the path of taking a more conservative approach in hopes that we can repeat the success we just experienced.

The assumption is that if we repeat what we just did, we increase the likelihood that we will repeat the success again. That is a bad assumption.

When it comes to innovation, success can be traced to a team that is willing to challenge the how and therefore take a maverick role within the organization. Instead of embracing this maverick approach, we fall into the trap of success and go the exact apposite direction. We become more conservative and relegate the team to being a one-hit wonder.

So how are we to avoid this trap of innovation success and stay a maverick??

Injecting Creative Stress Through Competition

When a team a needs to achieve innovation success, they need to be willing to throw out everything they know. The easiest way to get a team or organization to change is when there is a crisis such as a having a significant competitor.

Without this crisis, most teams and organization cannot find the will to be a maverick and instead fall into the trap of success.

While at HP, we were tasked to go from #3 and #4 market share to #1 in 3 years. To achieve that success, the entire organization had to re-think what a PC was and how to make them meaningful — if not actually desirable.

We threw everything out the window and started from scratch. It was a “bet the farm” move to achieve a BHAG that we knew we needed to achieve.

Once you've achieved the BHAG, you need to find the next competitor/BHAG. This is what allows you to deliver repeatable innovation successes.

Creative Stress For Teams

Another approach to avoiding the trap of success is to create some creative stress between teams within the organization. This is the approach Disney Animation and Pixar put in place to help drive each other to more success.

How did they achieve this without destroying the culture and teamwork? By establishing some basic rules:

  1. The studios would not be allowed to borrow each other’s resources when they got into a pinch.
  2. The wouldn’t be able to take over each other’s projects.
  3. No team would have veto power over another team’s movie.
  4. They were on their own to develop their own cultures and storytelling.
  5. But, they would have to openly share their work and they would have to listen to each other’s criticism.

Conclusion

Wouldn't life be great if it could predictable? Follow these 5 easy steps and everything will work out. While that sounds enticing, I would argue that life would also get boring.

Life in unpredictable. That's what creates opportunities for innovators. But as innovators — once we've tasted innovation success — we fall in to the same trap of success as everyone else. Follow these 5 steps and you can repeat success. But we just said that life is unpredictable … didn't we?

So what are we to do?

Inject some creative stress into our projects by identifying the competitor “out there”. That competitor can be external to your organization or it can be another team inside. That is what Disney Animation and Pixar did to achieve repeatable success.

To hear more on the trap of success, listen to the full show below … 

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