We are here to put “dents in the universe otherwise why even bother” said computer pioneer and maverick Steve Jobs. For the past four decades, however, precious few businesses have been dent makers, preferring rather to focus incessantly on short-termism, quarterly profits and efficiencies. The race to the bottom where everything becomes commoditised.
This is a strategy which I call “incrementalisation” − The institutionalisation of incremental gains as an industry norm and propagated by its leaders as the best strategic approach for success, delivered through increased efficiency and effectiveness − does not mean you will fail dramatically, but you are certain not to succeed massively either.
The great news is there is a growing group of leaders, entrepreneurs andsocial intrapreneurs who are looking at the world’s problems and embarking on quests to fix them, no matter how big these problems may be.
Leaders like Tesla’s Elon Musk, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel, Airbnb’s Brian Cheskey, GE’s Geoff Immelt, Unilever’s Paul Poleman and pretty much any millennial leaders (see Cathy Tie, Jihad Kawas, Harry Gandhi, and Taylor Wilson as examples) understand the emerging competitive shift: Because of the power of social media, the democratisation of information and knowledge; and unparalleled access to mobile and disruptive technology, today anyone anywhere can embark on a quest to change the world, their world, the world they influence.
Harnessing the power of the leaders’ quest is something any leader in any organisation at any level can do. It just takes courage and the desire to do something meaningful, something purposeful within your world.
Ask yourself this powerful question: How big is the hole – for your customers, internal or external – that you or your team will leave behind, if you suddenly disappeared? Will competitors move in and quickly fill the hole you left behind? Will your customers even care if you disappeared?
It’s an uncomfortable question but remarkable leaders do things that leave big holes. Remarkable organisations leave dents in their universe and they do this by delivering meaningful benefits to the people who are most important to them, their customers, their co-workers and their suppliers.
What is the meaningful benefit you are delivering?
Will you leave with a bang or a whimper?
About the Author: Dean van Leeuwen is an author, TEDx international speaker and expert on leadership, future trends, strategy and competitive advantage. He is a faculty member of CEDEP – The European Centre for Executive Development located on the INSEAD campus near Paris and is a guest lecturer at the London Business School. He is also a successful entrepreneur and the co-founder of TomorrowToday Global, a consultancy that helps leaders and successful organisation to navigate turbulent times. His book Quest: Competitive Advantage and the Art of Leadership in the 21st Century, is available from Amazon in print and kindle.