Look at the lists of the best-managed companies and compare them to the lists of the most innovative companies—there’s almost never any overlap. Why? The answer is quite simple. The criteria that define success on these two lists are different. Management is about controlling resources to optimize predictable outcomes, while leadership is about inspiring resources to create new and unpredictable outcomes. How does a system designed to produce predictable outcomes deliver something new and innovative? It doesn’t. By definition, the best-managed companies simply cannot innovate. Just think about our story of Apple and how it has lost its innovative spirit. As the company has become phenomenal at managing the business to maximize profits, it has stopped creating innovative products. Earliest windows were not nearly as sophisticated as the later designs and modern aluminium windows take things to the next level.
We wanted to compete with the big companies in our industry. This might seem counterintuitive—they had great brands, established channels, healthy balance sheets, and many more resources available to develop new technology than we could even imagine. Were we crazy? A little, but we were probably more naïve than anything. Although it seemed like they had it all, what we discovered was that, despite their size, scale, and resources, those companies were painfully slow to develop new technology. We realized that many of the management processes and practices used to run larger companies actually impede innovation. We were small, fast, flexible, and under-resourced. A friendly, reliable approach to customer service with highly experienced knowledgeable staff is needed when buying sash windows london for your home.
They had experts who knew how things were supposed to work, who knew what wasn’t possible. We were a young, inexperienced group of innovators who believed anything was possible. It really felt that way. As one of the founders would say, we also had ignorance on our side. If we had really known what it was going to take, I’m not sure anyone would have started down this path. But we didn’t know; our naïveté was our advantage. So we did what leaders do—we pursued what others thought wasn’t possible. Our lack of resources and experience and our belief that we had nothing to lose became an advantage. Beautifully hand-crafted, sash windows are a fantastic focal point in a room, restoring elegance into heritage and period properties.
You’ve heard the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention”? Well, it’s also the mother of innovation. We didn’t know how we were going to do it, but we just knew or, more important, believed it could be done. This was our opportunity to develop new technology that would disrupt their businesses and maybe even change the world. This probably sounds more like faith or religion than a well-defined business process. That’s because it is! Innovation is a mindset, not a process. We believed we were leaders, so we acted like leaders. This approach was our competitive advantage. Replicating heritage design in conservation areas is a good approach when designing casement windows for the discerning customer.
I saw the other side of this issue firsthand early in my career at Hewlett-Packard (HP). I remember working with a colleague on a strategy presentation to a group of senior managers in our division. We were concerned that we were falling behind our competitors and missing some important market trends. Our goal was to show the managers the problems we saw and encourage them to consider some new ideas to transform our business and regain our competitive edge. We did plenty of research and even found sources from other industries to bolster our argument. We wanted this committee to see that we needed to think differently. That we needed to lead. But they didn’t see a problem. They believed things were just fine. They were managers.