Thursday, February 17, 2011

Obstacle to Innovation #6: Void of expert leadership – “We can’t act on that until somebody big gives it the okay”

The road to a culture of greater innovation is a hazardous one.  This is because so many attempts at creativity and fresh thinking can fail. . .spectacularly.  Instead of creating new brand ideas, it creates a wake of frustrated employees and the perception of wasted time and resources.

It’s in this light that we look for a leader.

Leaders must, particularly in innovation, must provide their teams (along with their outside suppliers, vendors, and consultants) the space to allow people to unleash their creative potential.

There is a great saying that you don’t need a title to be a leader.  You can find expert leadership in some very unexpected places.

Take the case of Joan Samuelson. Ms. Samuelson was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1987 and left the practice of law to found the Parkinson's Action Network in 1991.

She was co-chair of a regenerative medicine conference when she said:

“I think if we are committed to a plan that truly is going to achieve our vision – getting effective therapies and cures within a reasonable amount of time – and the public believes that there is a huge amount of time and talent and energy that people in the legislature, in the patient communities, in simply the voting public will be willing to invest...then they will see the vision [and support] a plan to achieve it.”

She was the right leader at the right time because the right people got the message.  PAN is credited with many successes in increasing federal research spending, including the 1997 Morris K. Udall Parkinson’s Research Act. Samuelson played an active role in the campaign resulting in the 2004 passage of California’s Proposition 71 Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. Since then, Ms. Samuelson has been appointed to a variety of advisory panels on biomedical research and health policy.

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