Leading With Funnel Vision
In many ways, the title of this smart book says it all. Building visionary organizations is not for the weak, the rule followers or the gutless, says author and business advisor Bill Glynn. In fact, those leaders savvy and brave enough to create innovative and creative cultures don’t think “outside of the box,” since their strategies have no bounds in the first place.
The Future Belongs to the Funnel-wise
They’ve got what Glynn terms “funnel-vision” — a way of thinking in the present that extends into the future, narrow in the now but widening as it reaches into the future. Funnel-visionaries see a much wider array of alternatives than conventional thinkers. They are able to focus not just on their strategic target at the center of their vision, but can also see, in a peripheral sense, possible actions, events and consequences that may unfold as they work to concretize their vision.
Glynn uses a chorus of innovators from various sectors who riff on the concepts he presents in every chapter. It’s a smart way to validate and lend heft to his ideas. And his own metaphors are most intriguing, for instance when he talks about the effect of a cubicle (really the “cubicle mentality”) on creative employees. Glynn says that this type of corporate culture is like concertina, the coiled barbed wire that covers the top of prison compounds, to maverick, individualistic thinkers because they think differently and view themselves as prisoners inside the corporate walls. For these people there are no rules, says Glynn, and it’s difficult for them to embrace the team workers concept.
Talented leaders know how to harness these individualistic thinkers and channel their energies in the right direction without disrupting teaming, he says. What Glynn skips over are real specifics on how to incorporate these talented individuals into the business environment so that they don’t become disruptive members of the organization, since, as he mentions, “they are used to getting things done better and possibly faster without a team behind them.”
Glynn veers a bit from his visionary message to talk about his picks for emerging technology trends. His ruminations about the ascendance of gaming are compelling. Interactive gaming will become the ideal platform for instantaneously connecting brands and their products with gamers. Glynn predicts that the ability to embed advertising into games, TV broadcasting and DVDs will forever change the way people buy. He goes on to say that this marriage of gaming and product placement will eventually melt down the conventional TV-based advertising revenue model.
Another chapter that deserves attention is the one related to ROI. Glynn supports the theory that the United States can keep its superpower status only if it is willing to cultivate itself as a hub of innovation and cast off legacy sectors where it can no longer compete, such as the manufacturing sector. The new measuring stick for profit will revamp the traditional capitalist model, return on investment (ROI). Where return on investment calculates economic returns, the new and improved ROI measures return on innovation. It is a force multiplier, he explains, that exponentially increases the basic return on investment by capitalizing on a specific set of valued components.
Doing business as a form of war is a frequently?repeated concept in Left on Red. So it’s fitting that each chapter contains Tactical Take-Aways, snippets of advice that reinforce the book’s assumptions. Some of them are right on the mark, for instance when Glynn explains that Left-on-Red type of companies have networks based on critical centers of gravity that provide access to partnerships, leaders and influencers. Yet others seem a bit too prosaic considering the book’s underlying tenets of risk?taking and innovation. Consider this Take-Away: If a visionary is paired with too many dreamkillers, his visions may lie stagnant. This advice is hardly cutting-edge thinking; it’s just plain old common sense.