If you've been reading my recent blog posts, you've seen my interest in the successful and what enables them to succeed. The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value by John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen, which I'm now reading, is a bit different. Although the authors do mention the traits that allow these individuals to become billionaires, their focus is on why corporate culture chases these "producers" away.
Sviokla and Cohen explain that there are two types of people: producers (those that create and innovate) and performers (those that specialize and execute). Most companies encourage performers and discourage producers, or silo one from the other. What this means is that the people who have the vision and imagination to spot a trend or a future unmet need are not encouraged to pursue this, either because it seems too far-fetched or because any potential ROI (return on investment) will take too long.
All the producers who have become billionaires are able to incorporate these dualities: they have vision but can also execute; they are patient but can move quickly when the timing is right. Companies unfortunately do not handle such dichotomy—or the talent behind it—well.
What does this mean for you? Regardless of the size of your company or the seniority of your position, recognize these two things:
- Encourage ideas. Have a system where employees can suggest fixes and then pay attention, even to the seemingly crazy ideas. Since these suggestions come from those on the front line, the worst that can happen is that you smooth out some bumps your customers don't appreciate. But if you're lucky to have a true producer, the best that can happen is a pivot into an area that is ripe for future picking.
- Encourage creative and innovative thinking. We've all read how Google and other startups allow staff personal project time. Apparently rewarding your top talent with more work actually stifles their innovative thinking, which is stimulated by free time and mental drifting. So if you want your producers to come up with the next big thing (or any size profitable thing), don't overwork them.
Another really interesting thing they mentioned was how each of the billionaires they interviewed was very present: no cell phone, no distractions, no interruptions. They took this to mean they were very disciplined with their time and valued learning and curiosity.
So how will you encourage your staff and/or yourself to spend time creatively looking at problems and trends?