Playing the Ambition card

Ambition Card

The best CEOs know when to play

the Ambition card. (Courtesy WikiMedia)

Ambition, Ambition, Ambition. Keep saying it. Now take a look at the best innovation programs in the world and what do you see in the CEO’s hand? That high-value picture card - Ambition, and through this ambition we see success.

Interestingly, we also see failure so it’s not a trump card, more one of intent. We also see bold leaders leading. Company stock prices rising. Happy customers. Increasing market share and new markets being created. High employee retention. Human Resources inundated with great candidates. Competitors clambering to catch up. So many things contribute to these leading innovation programs - just read any innovation blog!

Leaders leading

Bold leaders leading. (Courtesy CLA)

We also know it takes a lot to be a leading company thriving on innovation. A whole ecosystem of components has created the innovation engine for these Tier 1 Innovation-Led Companies (the Innovators). We know them well (let’s see if you can guess them from my description) – the half-eaten fruit factory, the ogling bloodhound company, and the one who are so innovation-cool they don’t need to go by their full name anymore, they just need two initials – who perhaps sound more like a financial or legal company - something & something.

There are many more. You see them every year leading the top 25 most perceived innovative companies. We may argue that some are not as innovative as their position indicates, but it’s safe to say that the top few are the ones that other companies (the ones playing innovation catch-up) look up to.

This for me is one of the hardest things to appreciate. Each of these companies works in a different way with different goals and priorities. Annoyingly, for competitors, they don’t rest. Once you get ahead the only way to stay ahead is to keep innovating, and the only way to catch up is to out-innovate The Innovators!

This is why ambition is so important. If you don’t have it, get it.  It’s a picture card that really gets you in the game.

At first you are only competing with yourself – you need to define your goals and go after them. You may start in one place in your company, by hiring experts, starting a cultural transformation program, undertaking a strategic assessment, insight building or scenario planning, innovation training, or an idea management system.

As these cards and others come together over time, they give you have a better hand and you start to win some really big innovations. If your company starts small and its ambitions are in one place, you need to grow and connect these ambitions so you can become a real force in your market. From programs that start from the top with a huge ambition to small ones that grow from acorns – we all need some.

So what is your company’s ambition? Sit down with your team – and if you have an ambition, define it. If you don’t, understand how you will create and grow it. Only through setting out and planning our Ambitions can you become a company who thrives on innovation. We’ve all got to grow so get some Innovation Ambition today!

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