Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret did not help as much as I had originally hoped. However, everything changes in Part Six which summarizes the importance of vision. Osborne distinguishes between mission and vision: “Vision is much more detailed. It’s the narrative that describes what success is supposed to look like in detailed and real-life terms. It puts flesh on your missional bones.”
The author adds some helpful questions that helps leaders come to grips with their vision. He urges them to ask, “What do you feel best about?” and “What are the things that cause you to feel most embarrassed or discouraged?” These two questions are worth the price of the book as they encourage leaders to dig deep and discover the essence of their personal and corporate vision.
The author argues that vision comes from within: “A God-given vision will always be unique, simply because every leader and every organization is unique.” He strongly encourages leaders to build teams that reflect and complement the vision that will drive a given organization.
Osborne urges leaders to set the course of visionary leadership. He reminds leaders that vision seldom comes out of a committee meeting: “A realistic vision has to align with the passions, skills, and strengths of the leadership team and those who operate the organization. But it also almost always has to flow out of the heart of the leader.” Indeed, organizations must trust leaders as they guide the troops through the minefields of life.
Leaders are called upon to create and sustain vision. One key factor to the success of a given vision is regular and consistent communication. An important part of effective communication is the ability to convey the essence of a vision in a few short sentences, what the author refers to as an “elevator speech.” That is to say, leaders should be able to spell out a vision between the first and third floors.
The author concludes with a well-thought out chapter that helps leaders leave a legacy of innovation. “Leaders,” he argues, must have “the freedom to ask the right questions.” Leaders are urged to wrestle with the following:
1. What is our unique mission?
2. What are our unique strengths and weaknesses?
3. What is current reality?
4. What do we need to do to better fulfill our mission?
Osborne’s closing words are wise and timely: “At the end of the day, all a leader can do is prepare the horse for battle. The final outcome is out of our control. Even the wisest leaders and serial innovators must deal with innovations dirty little secret and the failures that come with it.”
I was disappointed with the first 150 pages of this book. The content was uninspiring and forgettable. But the last 22 pages of the book shine brightly. They contain a wealth of wisdom that leaders can benefit from and apply immediately in a variety of contexts. Like any book, readers must eat the meat and spit out the bones.
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