Louis Patler, PhD., a New York Times best-selling author spoke at the Elevate Performance Speaker Series Tuesday morning at the Fayetteville Pryor Center on Center Street located in quaint downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Patler, a San Francisco native, spoke about innovation within the communications and leadership realm.
Patler works to bring together pioneering technologies for identifying emerging business and consumer trends, organizational culture, and strategic initiatives to Fortune 500 companies, multi-national corporations, and foreign governments.
He serves as the Chairman of Near Bridge Inc., an international consulting, trend analysis, and strategic research company. He has been Director of M Squared Consulting, Inc.(formerly, M Squared Inc.) since January 2002 and serves as a Director of Collabrus, Inc.
His books often delve deep into the data journalism behind emerging trends and practices. Patler’s next book focuses on entrepreneurship through the eyes of surfers, who often ride the literal and metaphorical waves of business.
“We should focus on innovators, rather than innovation,” Patler said at the lecture. Companies and businesses must focus on the character they are developing, rather than the product and idea of innovation.
Alluding to his “surfer’s rule” (the main inspiration behind his next book) Patler said that innovators, in addition to being comfortable with change are also comfortable with metaphors. Thus, why the metaphors of the waves of business are so familiar to surfers. Surfers must be able to anticipate pushback, usually from large 50-foot waves. Entrepreneurs must also be able to anticipate a challenge.
“The more you anticipate pushback, the better you will do,” Patler said.
Innovators must think like a beginner, Patler said. He told a story of his daughter, who was shown a puzzle in her kindergarten class and told her answer was wrong. When asked what letter didn’t belong, she interpreted the cross that intersected a set of letters as a “T” and said that it did not belong. This kind of thinking was simply unconventional and not necessarily incorrect. Patler encourages entrepreneurs to step back and look at the whole picture, and “find the T.”
Most of Patler’s solutions are found through quirky stories like these, in which people think outside the box. Patler believes these stories are what led Steve Jobs to recommend his books.
Patler also stressed the importance of “doing your homework.”
“Many readers don't do their homework or check out the competition,” Patler said. “People get myopic. Innovators that were most successful were able to do the due diligence above and beyond the norm.”
From the beginning, leaders must be able to see the monetary benefits of their success and know how to sell their solutions. Leaders must be able to see all employees and colleagues as innovators, create a culture that encourages and rewards innovation, and align a company of innovators with a culture of innovators, Patler said.
Innovators also must beware of the inevitable fear of chasing an idea, fire hosing from co-workers or bosses, and “sacred cows” or those things that companies are unwilling to part with for the sake of innovation.
By nature, innovators must be sustainable, looking into the future at both the short and long term effects, solutions and resources. They should look to collaborate with those that offer trust, fresh ideas, and harness all available resources.