This Formula For Scalable Innovation Really Works

Leaders Build People.

The leader’s job is not to build products. And it’s not to build businesses. The leader’s primary concern is people and the leader’s job description doesn’t need to be longer than three simple words: “Just Build People”.

Building people is the highest-order value-generating activity that a company can ever dream of investing in.

There’s no silver bullet and no easy formula for building people. The key is that it takes other true, authentic, strong leaders to build people. And those leaders are really hard to find. Once you do though, you should sell your house, your cow and your once-in-a-lifetime-concert tickets just to get one of those leaders to join your team.

People Build Products.

Once you have someone responsible for building people then you can start thinking about building products. Then and only then. I see companies attempting to build products way before attempting to build people. Or even worse, they build products without ever investing in building people.

Having your leaders focus on building people instead of focusing primarily on product development or even business development, makes a lot of sense. Because at the end of the day, no product and no business is ever built by a single person. It will always, always, take an entire team to build and maintain good products and good businesses. Meaning that you need to focus on building that team at one point or another. And the quality of the team will be primarily responsible for the quality of the product and for the success of the business. That’s why building the team should be handed off to your most senior leaders — to your best. To the best of the best. If it seems counter-productive not to put your product in the hands of your best leaders then you value product higher than people. If that’s the case, you started off on the wrong foot. People should always come before product. Otherwise, your product is dead on arrival.

Products Build Businesses.

Suppose you do assign your best leaders to build people and then assign those people to build the product. Who do you assign to build the business then?

And here’s where you will cringe.

No one.

No one as in, no one in particular. Sure, you will need sales people and account managers and so on. But not one person in particular should be tasked with building the business. If that sounds crazy and risky, then how much crazier and riskier is it to put your entire business on one individual’s lonely shoulders? Everyone should be involved in building the business. But even then, we’re interested in scalable ways to build the business. And even if everyone does get involved in building the business, that will not scale. Or not as much as the founders and investors would hope it would scale.

Enter the product.

Why not hire the product for the job of building the business? A good product that is built with love and care and attention, by a team that itself is built with love and care and attention by your best leaders. Such a product would literally be your best work, the best you can yield as a company. And your best work should be your best sales tool. Even better, your sales “agent”. The more time and energy you invest in building a product that markets and sells itself, the less time you will have to invest to manually market and sell the product. Thus, less time spending on building the business. Hand off the building of the business to your product and be on your merry way to sustainable growth.

Leaders Build People. People Build Products. Products Build Businesses.

So there you have it. This formula for true innovation works and it will work for you too if you’re brave enough to give it a shot. What do you have to lose?

Let me know how that plays out for your company.

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