Grammy Award winner Bruno Mars has a great line in his hit song “Uptown Funk.” The line is “Don’t believe me? Just watch!” This line makes me think of all the people who have been counted out, disregarded, or marginalized because they didn’t follow the “established set of rules.” They’ve been called names like strange, odd, different, or a little off. However, a kinder statement would be that they’re “free spirits.”
Many of these free spirits create their own path, dance to their own music, and trust and follow their own set beliefs. They’re confident, not arrogant, in their abilities; they’re risk takers, but not reckless. When they identify a problem, or, as many free spirits call it, an “opportunity,” they study and research why there’s an issue with the current method, collaborating with other like-minded people to determine if and how a different approach would improve the situation. Then, most importantly, they take action. These free spirits are innovators or “designers,” the new term, in the truest sense of the word.
I love the term “designers.” I recently read “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, who wrote:
“Designers imagine things that don’t yet exist, and then they build them and the world changes. Designers believe in radical collaboration which works on the principle that people with very different backgrounds will bring their idiosyncratic technical and human experiences to the team. This increases the chance that the team will have empathy for those who will use what they are designing, and that the collision of different backgrounds will generate truly unique solutions.”
In other words, they’re willing to investigate and either try to do what hasn’t been done, or design a completely new way to drastically improve a process or industry. They look at the established best practice and often say, “I see what you’re doing, but what if we did this?” Don’t believe me? Look at Starbucks, Apple, Google, or Amazon. They didn’t invent coffee shops or technology or search engines or logistics. What they did was design a better, more intuitive, and more convenient customer experience. They changed the world.
Designers aren’t afraid of failure. In fact, they view what most of us call “failure” as being one step closer to success. They start the project, test and challenge the progress, make adjustments, and keep moving forward. They don’t worry about perfection because perfection never happens. Instead, they focus on continuous improvement. Unlike many major corporations or established organizations, they don’t milk their products or solutions. Why is this important? I’ve been involved with far too many people or organizations who, once they find initial success, get lazy. They turn their focus to either attacking their competitors or hyping themselves with marketing/branding propaganda.
Our free-spirited innovators/designers continue to make their products or solutions better to the point where there’s no other viable alternative. Their solutions are not just what the customers do or buy, it’s what they are. For example, Harley Davidson customers are Harley Davidson. They’ll wait longer and pay more because they’re Harley Davidson; there’s no other option. The same is true with Apple, from MACs to iPhones to iPods to “iEverything.”
We’ve all heard the saying, “There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened.” These free-spirited innovators/designers are the people who make a major impact in their industry or in the world. They believe none of us are in this alone. The secret to walking on water is to know where the rocks are, and they’re finding the rocks.
You know who and what I’m talking about. I’m willing to bet I’m talking about you.
Frank Zaccari is a leading business development advisor, author, and speaker represented by Luminary Leaders. Visit www.luminaryspeakers.com to learn more.