Do You Have a Collective Passion?

Passion is the stuff of entrepreneurs: a clear crisp focus driven by a spiritual energy to do something special for your customer. That something special can be an amazing new product, technology or service. Collective passion, in my mind, is something more special and unique: It is the ability to scale passion up into the size of a larger group or organization. This is key: very few companies have the unique and special skill and ultimate commitment to institutionalize the passion for their business. All innovation superstars achieve sustainable success by keeping their eye on the customer with a powerful fueling force of collective passion. How do they do it?

I’ve had the privilege of working with an amazing company based in Seattle, Washington called “Sur la Table.” Sur la Table is a national gourmet retailer, and their whole world is about kitchen tools and kitchen gadgets. I remember going to their corporate headquarters and spending some time with their buyers and some of their media people. In fact the day I was there the CEO was on her way home to try out a new pizza oven they were considering adding to their catalog. They are people who absolutely love gourmet food. Discussing the latest quality gourmet food and tools and the latest innovation to make your life and your culinary experience terrific was almost like talking religion – that’s how passionate they felt about their business.

I’ll never forget the energy and the feeling of passion at Sur la Table. If you ever have a chance to go to one of their retail stores or to look at them online or to get one of their catalogs, you can see the results of people who absolutely love what they’re doing. It’s not just what they do for a living – it’s truly part of their DNA.

Innovation superstars live with passion. Personally I believe that, with the exception of some mutated accident, it’s impossible to invent – and to deliver high levels of net customer value unless you do it “from the belly.” It’s a visceral thing. It isn’t inherently intellectual, and you can throw as many processes and policies and procedures and consultants as you want at it, but at the end of the day, if you don’t have “fire in the belly,” you aren’t going to be an innovation superstar.

The dividends from being an innovation superstar are colossal. Conversely, ignoring these components can lead to titanic failure.

Innovation superstars love what they do. They wake up every day with exuberance. And it’s not just the customer; it’s the “stuff.” They love the technology, they love the business, they love the space.

Is that feeling, that ethos, alive and well in your organization? Do you love what you do? Do you love the people who create the bright shiny objects you bring to market with layers of new and exciting value? It’s an important question. In my view, all innovation superstars have a collective passion.

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