Discovery leaders explore new ways. New business and markets are created because someone found a better way to do something. Discovery is an adventure. Imagination, design and creativity are the lexicons of discovery. It is fleet of foot, nimble and athletic. Discovery is where value is born, nurtured and grown.
If discovery leadership results in success, delivery leaders follow, most certainly if the business takes on outside investors. The delivery leader’s job is to make business more efficient, more rational and take the costs out of it. Numbers and accounting is the language delivery leaders. Delivery is where value is extracted.
Getting more efficient is seductive; it’s targetable, quantifiable and delivers quick results. But as the delivery strengthens, it overwhelms the discovery gene, pins it down and mutes discovery’s voice. The discovery muscles grow weak, untrained and unfit. Then business wakes up one day asking the question: How come we don’t know how to compete any more?
The most important role of the leader is as chief discovery officer, because that is where the value is created.
Financial success is a by-product. Leadership’s aim should be to focus on competitive advantage. The leader’s job should be to get the company ready for the future, keep the discovery gene fit, well trained and amplify its voice.
Protecting discovery by understanding what matters for customers and community. Explore new ideas, experiment, fail fast and tell stories of the future that inspire people – The French poet and explorer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “If you want to build a flotilla of ships, you don’t sit around talking about carpentry. No, you need to set people’s souls ablaze with visions of exploring distant shores.” - that’s your job.
Discovery, that’s how to be a successful leader, that’s your most important job.