Peter Liguori – How Passion Drives Innovation
“I’ve noticed that young leaders, especially, can fall into the trap of feeling like they need to be dogmatic in order to be seen as powerful. In my experience, the opposite is true. Last fall I was having a conversation with Peter Liguori, where he was telling me that he thought the Discovery Creative Council should spend some time focusing on how to improve the organization’s creative process. I disagreed, initially – I thought the council should focus more specifically on generating creative ideas. Peter listened carefully to my disagreement, then offered a clear and impassioned rationale for his point of view: that he felt strongly that the Council members, as creative executives, were most at the effect of any problems with the creative process, and would have great insights into how to solve them. He also explained that he was concerned that having the council come up with great creative ideas, and then putting them into a less-than-great organizational process, would be frustrating and counter-productive. He made the case that focusing on the creative process was the more foundational and strategic place to begin. Peter never told me my point of view was wrong, and he never implied his point of view was the only way to see the situation. But he made his case so clearly, and with such honest passion, that I was sold. (And we ended up having a meeting focused on the creative process that has had a positive ripple effect throughout the organization.)”
– From Chapter 4 of Leading So People Will Follow
I really loved facilitating Discovery’s Creative Council, a handpicked group of “productive creatives” from all over the organization, with whom Peter worked to – as I note above – improve Discovery’s creative process and generate fresh ideas. I was sad that Discovery decided to disband the Council when Peter left the company. The Council members were all interesting, smart folks with great skills and insights, and Peter did a wonderful job of drawing them out and encouraging new thinking.
I observed, in working with the group, that Peter’s combination of deep passion and openness to disagreement was a powerful catalyst for the council members’ passion. His approach made it both OK to feel strongly and OK to disagree — and I often saw the group work their way to a better idea because he was modeling that blend of passion and openness for them.
The entire experience made me realize how closely the leadership attribute of passion is tied to innovation. To come up with new, better ways of doing things and then actually implement those new approaches requires deep commitment combined with a curious and inclusive spirit – the essence of true passion. When leaders can find that balance, exciting stuff can unfold…