Enemies of Innovation

Enemies of Innovation
June 5, 2024 Rob Artigo
In Podcasts

The enemy of innovation comes in many different forms, but usually the goal is the same. To throw you off your game. As Ray Zinn tells us in this Tough Things First podcast, stifling innovation can take a whole company out.


Rob Artigo: Let’s talk about this, ways in which innovation can be stifled in our businesses, in our organizations, because a lot of people that are listening to this either want to be entrepreneurs or are entrepreneurs, but there are other people who are just interested in the life advice that you offer.

So they have families and they experience roles of leadership and also serving others and all this stuff has value in those areas as well. And I found this list that sparked my interest on the subject. This list, it’s not one of your lists, but it’s certainly the kind of thing that you would come up with. So I wanted to ask you to see if you agree with the statement. If you could add something to it or make a change to it, what would you do? Let’s start with number one, fear. According to this list, fear is the single biggest reason why most organizations and individuals do not achieve their full potential. Fear of failure.

Ray Zinn: I agree. Fear is probably the biggest deterrent to success if you lack courage because the opposite of fear is courage, if you lack courage, then you won’t be able to pursue your dream or your mission. Fear is a great deterrent to innovation because you just don’t want to fail. Failure is part of growing. We all fail to some extent, and that’s how we grow. For example, a little child learning to walk, he will fall down and that’s failing as you would, but you know darn well that if you don’t start with that first step, you’re never going to learn to walk and so you’re going to fall down. And so becoming an entrepreneur or a successful CEO or leader, you have to be willing to fall, be willing to fail as you would, being willing to get up again and get back on that horse if you get bucked off.

Ray Zinn: And so if you ever watched a rodeo and watched the bucking broncos and the wild bull and riding those bulls, there’s some danger there. Life in general is dangerous as you would because the potential for failure. Learning to walk is potential for failure because you’re going to fall down. So you have to be willing to fall. A mistake is only a mistake if it’s not corrected. The mistake of falling down is not getting up again or not getting back on that horse or not solving that problem. If you look at the very first automobile model T Ford as you would, it looks nothing like compared to the… Comparing the model T Ford to what we have today, it’s night and day.

Rob Artigo: You mentioned leadership and the next one is on leadership. And it’s really about the lack of leadership. One of the enemies of innovation being the lack of leadership.

Ray Zinn: Leadership is very similar to being a parent. You have to set the example and we know with all the crime that we have today, especially in the big cities, it’s all reflected on the fact that there’s not a family, like an image, like a father image and a leader or entrepreneur. I use that term father in a sense of a leader. There’s just no father there leading that organization, trying to compare that to the family. Having that father image as you would, and I know there’s a lot of wonderful female CEO’s out there, but I’m still using it. Even if they’re a female CEO, that’s kind of the father, they’re still the father of their organization. And so you know what a father’s role is. A father’s role is to provide for the family, to protect the family, and sustain the family. That’s what a CEO does. They provide, they sustain, they protect, and they lead by example. The key to leadership is having that father role as you would, that father responsibility, being the father of that organization.

Rob Artigo: The next one on the list is short-term thinking. How troubling is that?

Ray Zinn: Well, it’s like buggy whip manufacturer, and you ignore the fact that there’s a car being designed. Short-term thinking is believing that that buggy whip is going to be around forever. It’s called the buggy whip phenomena. That short-term mentality. I mean, you may do well until that idea runs afoul like the pet rock or something. Short term thinking is focusing only on the near term, not looking at having to continue innovating your product. Look at the first Apple iPhone compared to what the current model is. I think it’s a 14 or 15, whatever the current level is, it’s night and day. It’s just like the first car. It doesn’t look any like the car today. So you have to build on what you know and keep growing and innovating and being creative and not sitting back and just assuming that pet rock is going to last forever as you would. So for those of you who don’t know what a pet rock is, that was something that happened back in the-

Rob Artigo: They took a rock and they glued eyeballs on it.

Ray Zinn: And you can make a pet out of it. I don’t know.

Rob Artigo: And that was a pet rock. That was it. Somebody came up with this idea. People made bundles of money by gluing those little plastic eyeballs onto a rock.

Ray Zinn: Well, you go online, you can still buy a pet rock, by the way it’s nothing like it was back in the sixties, but you can still buy them, but they’re not very innovative. They’re not very creative as you would, and so short term thinking is not looking that things are going to change. I guarantee you the only thing that is going to change is change.

Rob Artigo: And that leads directly into this last one here we’ll discuss is that there are lots of ideas out there, but no delivery to the market. That is an enemy of innovation.

Ray Zinn: What kind of an invention doesn’t lead to a product? You can’t call an invention an invention if it doesn’t lead to a product.

Rob Artigo: Yeah, I mean, it’s an idea. An idea can be anything, like I have an idea that I can use a bundle of rubber bands and launch a rocket ship to Mars. But that’s an unrealistic. That’s just an idea.

Ray Zinn: An idea without a product is strictly an idea. When you become innovative, that means you’re going to create, not just think. Thinking without doing is really daydreaming as you would. So in your thinking, there’s got to be some doing, so you got to go from the thinking to the doing, and it’s the doing that really is… Now we’re back to the first one, which is fear. The doing is if I never do it, then I don’t have to fear it. Fearing not doing it as you would. You got to go from the thinking phase to the doing phase.

Rob Artigo: Our listeners here at Tough Things First can join the conversation. If they’re not satisfied with just listening, they can reach out to you at toughthingssfirst.com. Make the recommendations for the topics they’d like to hear about. If you have questions, if you have comments, they’re always welcome. You can follow Ray on X. You can also follow Ray at Facebook and LinkedIn, and of course, pick up Ray’s books, Tough Things First and Zinn of Zen, one, two, and three. You won’t regret it. Thanks, Ray.

Ray Zinn: Thank you.

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