Start something: Where is the Director of Starting?


“What do you do here.”

That is one of my favourite questions I often ask people in companies. It is interesting to hear people describe their roles, their jobs, their sets of tasks.

Some people are self-limiting, I do administration, I’m the PA, some people are even proud of their limitations “I only do this, they don’t pay me to do this, I’m not doing anything extra beyond what they pay me for.”

Other people are grandiose in their response: “I’m responsible for running the branch.”

Almost no one says, “I start stuff around here,” or proudly limiting themselves by saying “I only get paid to initiate things,” or grandiosely says “I’m the chief responsible for initiating things around here.”

This is surprising if you think about it. If there is no one starting stuff, then where does innovation come from in your company?

No, I’m not talking about ideas, there are plenty of ideas, I’m talking about starting.

If no one starts stuff at work, where is innovation going to come from?

Where is the Director of Starting, where is the Department of Starting, the Starting Team?

Clearly there is guy in charge of the plant or the sales force or the money. But who is in charge of “yes, go ahead, start it?”

We have a lot of Directors of the Status-Quo, their job is to ensure that we do what we have always been doing, keep things as they have always been. They are the director of “No” [to new things], we need directors of “Yes.”

Most organisations are missing the Director of Starting, probably that’s why innovation always lags behind. To such organisations it is better to follow than start.

Nokia adopted the same approach, hence the CEO recently said, “we did nothing wrong, but we lost,” and then cried. They didn’t start anything new.

If there is no Director of Starting, or Director of Yes, it is unlikely that staff will start things, it is unlikely that an organisation will be innovative.

Don’t touch it you will break it or touch it and make it better? Growth comes from touch it and make it better.


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