Jerry Seinfeld has a show on Netflix “Comedians in cars getting coffee” where he has conversations with successful comedians. In a recent show with Dave Chapelle, he visited Dave’s high school in an under-privileged part of New York where a recent donation of $17 million dollars led to a significant upgrade to their performance arts theater. Both comics marveled at the facility as it looked like a state-of-art venue that resembled any high-end theater in a major city. Seinfeld asked a fascinating question on stage in awe of what he was seeing: How can someone great come out a place like this? As a coach of dozens of executives and CEOs of organizations, I can tell you it is a question eerily similar what they ask themselves anytime a disruptive competitor shows up in the market, seemingly from nowhere started in a garage with some broke folks: Why did this not come from our highly-funded innovation centers and inspiring off-site exotic locations where have our retreats?
I have written about this before and shared how when hired to facilitate strategy sessions, I frequently advise the CEO or Board Chair to change their location from their offices or hotel/resort to someplace that can neurologically stimulate the type of counter-intuitive point that Seinfeld was making. We may rent a small cabin, share rooms, wake up/sleep in the same shared places, sit uncomfortably close to each other because of space and wear the most casual of attire. “This is the environment your next disruptor is working in” I tell them. I have found that after a very brief time of lamenting, every group not only performs better (in terms of desired outcomes) but create an organic bond that builds trust and a genuine spirit of collaboration with shared ownership of outcomes. Win-Win.
As we approach 2019 budgeting and planning season now, I would encourage you to consider the resources your potential disruptor has and how so many of them are armed with nothing more than trust among themselves and a belief that the status quo business model is flawed. Entrepreneurs are largely governed with the belief that big company fancy facilities and highly paid executives are limiters to innovation, not enablers.