A globally recognized innovation leader and futurist, Lisa founded futurethink in 2003 to provide a simple approach to the otherwise complicated topic of innovation. Working with leading brands such as Starwood, Merck, and Bosch, futurethink has become the largest source of innovation research, tools, and training curricula in the world. She is the author of the provocative culture-change book, Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution, which was named one of the Best Business Books of 2012 by Booz & Co.
Well, Kill the Company is all about getting rid of things that don't work to make space for things that do work. And how this all happened was I have a group of trainers that are located around the world and we teach people about innovation and change. And something very interesting was happening that the leaders that were bringing us in to actually teach change were the very ones that were holding us back from doing it. And we wanted to know why. Why is this happening? We did a lot of research over the years and worked with thousands of clients. And what we found was that people are approaching change all wrong.
And what we found was this. The very things that most companies put in place to help us better innovate or embrace change, so meetings, reports, policies, procedures, while important, they can't be the only thing that you do. And unfortunately people were putting so many of those things in place they were putting a chokehold on change and innovation. So our conjecture around Kill the Company is what you need to do first before you innovate is get rid of the things that aren't working, challenge the way things have been done before so you can make space for things to work better.
So, the idea for Kill the Company came about from a very I'll say painful experience. Here’s what happened. We were brought down to visit a company, a large manufacturing company in North Carolina. They were doing an executive offsite and there was about 50 of their senior leaders there and they asked us to do some envisioning exercises, et cetera. And myself and a few other trainers were leading this workshop. And after about an hour into the workshop I'll tell you it was very obvious to us, we were doing exercises like envision the future and from impossible to possible and we noticed the people just weren't buying it. And we took a break and I'll tell you it was one of those things where you just didn't want to come back into the room but you had to. And I pulled one of the executives aside and I said, "What's going on," because they brought us down here to talk about futuring and change. And it was a very seminal moment.
The executive said, "You know Lisa, it's not that we don't want change to happen, it's that we no longer believe we can affect it." And I thought what does that say if the senior leaders feel that way? How does the rest of the organization feel? So the idea for Kill the Company came out of one of those snap moments. We went back into the room and I had everybody throw out their agendas, and this is one of those make it or break it moments. And I said, "Everybody rearrange into your table groups by function or business unit." So you had legal or marketing or rocketry or whatever it was. And I asked everybody to pretend that they were their number one competitor. So whatever group they were in pretend they were their number one competitor. And I said, "Over the next 30 minutes your job is to put your company out of business." And it was like we gave them this out of company experience where they were forced to attack the things that were wrong rather than being politically correct.
And what was really interesting about it was they came up with ideas to kill their company. And then after 30 minutes they turned those ideas back onto their own competitors. So they were killing meetings, they were killing rules. It was really a cathartic exercise. It was a really different way to approach strategic planning because how most of us approach strategic planning is how to come up with more things for the next year and rarely do we start with getting rid of the things that don't work first. And that's how Kill the Company can be really productive.
Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rod, and Dillon Fitton