As in life, business is full of passion. To love, to hate, to weep, to laugh…
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
So goes the bard…
So too, it would seem, are innovative organizations. Full of passion.
A surprising data point that continues to arise from the InQ diagnostic data is that the innovation competency we term ‘passion’ has not been identified – by anyone to date – as being their organization’s lowest competency.
What does this mean though?
In that old standby, Good to Great, Jim Collins and his team found that great companies become great through working at the intersection of the space of three concepts:
- what they’re the best in the world at,
- what drives their economic engine, and
- what they’re most passionate about
What we see then is a disconnect between these aspects in a well-functioning organization.
Building on those sentiments, in a post last year on Forbes Erika Anderson argued that it’s best to:
Indeed, too much passion may be the death of a project. Passion can, as Laura Roeder has made clear, have a shelf life. To continue to innovate over time and to truly use one’s passion to fire the imagination and make a change in this world one needs to harness one’s passion and it is perhaps here that the greatest lesson to learn lies.
Passion is a wonderful competency for any organization to have – but it must be harnessed well for its true value to emerge. For we all tend, so our early results would suggest, to have a passion to innovate. To paraphrase Aldous Huxley in a Brave New World ‘We want to know what passion is. We want to feel something strongly.’
What we need to then is to learn, as individuals and as organizations, to focus that passion. For there the true power of innovation lies. To end with a quote commonly attributed to Jack Kerouac:
My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.
It is here then – at the juncture of issues such as vision and execution that the power of passion truly comes to the fore as the driving force to enable ongoing and effective innovation over time. The key though is harnessing and focusing that passion. So, like light through a magnifying glass a diffuse and nebulous force such as passion can become focused and refined, and through that transformation, become something with which one can change the world.