Too often “good teams kill great ideas.” Physicist and entrepreneur Safi Bahcall discovered how to change a company’s culture by changing the underlying structures supporting its teams. He tells Future of Work podcast host Jacob Morgan that companies must balance “core” versus “new” priorities, though that’s easier said than done. Innovators’ goals may be at odds with the objectives of those in charge of getting a product to market. Most companies focus on innovation or sales or development, and leave human resources to chug along. But, Bahcall says, you can “weaponize” HR instead. Companies that invest in proper incentives for every worker gain a major strategic advantage.
Companies face the same challenge the military faces when evaluating successful strategies and new ideas. Both need to balance “core” versus “new” priorities.
If you’re in a nuclear submarine, you want to make sure you won’t hear clanking sounds from the engine room when you’re under water. Neither do you want to be suddenly ambushed by a new type of torpedo. The stakes for companies may not be quite as life and death as that, but the risk of being blindsided feels the same.
Too often, companies have either a culture that supports rank and hierarchy – which is good for executing projects – or one that supports innovation – which favors new products. Companies seldom do a good job of supporting both. You need discipline to stay on schedule and deliver for your customers, but your company also needs to nurture crazy ideas and innovations to stay atop its market.
To change a culture, create the right underlying conditions.
Some cultures are political; others are innovative. Just as the transition of water from liquid to ice happens due to a small temperature change, so, too, can underlying structural changes powerfully ...
Safi Bahcall is a biotech entrepreneur, CEO, physicist and the author of Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries. Jacob Morgan hosts The Future of Work podcast.