Disruption is rarely found in the Middle. It is found at the edges – In the “Cloud” space of Big Ideas & the “Dirt” of Daily Execution.
To be truly innovative, businesses are best served by building excellence in two fields – Vision and Execution. The first setting the direction of the business, the latter directing the work effort towards that end.
When a business does both consistently, it wins.
The battle is knowing when to focus on which and how to split the work effort between the two.
When is the right time to assess the marketplace, research trends, manage insights and work on the next big idea?
When do we do the work? And what work is most important?
I think this is the biggest challenge – especially for smaller firms, solopreneuers etc – when is it important to focus on Vision, and when is it time to roll the sleeves up and get to work.
The Missing Link
Being excellent in these fields is critical, but I feel there’s an additional, parallel skill set businesses need in order to build disruptive practice into their performance culture. That being the ability to move fluidly between the Clouds and Dirt, and for me, the genesis of that ability is Strategy.
Strategy bridges the divide, and creates the pathway that turns Vision into reality. Strategy takes the big idea and translates it into actionable, tactical and timely steps. This allows the business to do work that is 100% aligned with achieving it’s vision.
Clouds & Dirt
“Execution Matters. Ideas are shit without execution” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Vay-ner-chuk uses the paradigm to highlight where Entrepreneurs should be focussing their attention within their businesses in order to generate the biggest (and most disruptive) returns.
“The Middle” is the space between high-level Vision and grass-roots tactics – and it’s where, as Garyvee puts it, you’ll find the majority of businesses. The Middle represents the busy-work most businesses find themselves operating in; simply doing the job, somewhere in between where they want to go and what they need to do to get there.
The inability to focus on either end of the clouds/dirt spectrum drives distraction, leads to misguided effort, and the lack of foresight doesn’t create the agility required to face future challenges.
Turning Vision into Reality
Business leaders need to be capable of switching rapidly from Vision to Execution, and their organisations need to be highly responsive to the demand.
There will be times when the business is in Vision mode – perhaps rapid-prototyping new product lines, supporting change management, or driving innovation through future vision workshops – and times spent in Execution – hustling at the tactical work of getting shit done to commercialise the Vision into something tangible.
Having great Ideas without being able to Execute them gets a business exactly nowhere. The only value of an idea is the degree to which you can take it to market – transforming it into something tangible, relevant and necessary.