Today’s post was written by our Advisor, General E. John “Dragon” Teichert (Ret).
When I took command of legendary Edwards Air Force Base, it was characterized by a choking complacency. It was operating on autopilot when it needed to be in afterburner.
It was at this hallowed ground of aerospace history where a different type of test took place, creating a stunning culture of innovation, breaking the barriers of bureaucracy, and dwarfing the innovation activity of the rest of the Air Force combined.
First we needed to define what we meant by innovation. We wanted the entire base to become an innovation laboratory, so we proposed something simple.
Any member of our team with an idea needed to know that someone in leadership would listen to it, consider it, and act appropriately on it. Even if we didn’t get to yes, our simple acts of listening, considering and acting would allow us to tap into the talent all around us, snapping the workforce out of autopilot and unleashing our team.
We realized, though, that our organization did not have the indigenous expertise to capture the attention of our workforce, stand out above the ambient noise of base-wide activity, and fully conceptualize innovation and organizational transformation. That’s when we met Jason.
Jason Korman, the CEO of Gapingvoid Culture Design Group, is a shaggy-haired professorial figure from Miami. Not only was he an innovation guru, but he embodied a contagious passion for cultural transformation.
Together, we relentlessly and effectively operationalized the Listen, Consider, and Act cycle. We used creative methods that we dubbed Trial by Dragon, Talk with Team Teichert, Dragon’s Lair, the Grit Award, the Innovation Manifesto, the Hustle Squad, and Charge the Hill. We also implemented concepts known as Spikes on a Wire, Your Calendar and Your Checkbook, Non-Material Solutions, Shared Humanity and Mutual Benefit, Your Greatest Idea, and Daring Wins.
This compelling journey is described in BOOM! Leadership That Breaks Barriers, Challenges Convention, and Ignites Innovation. This book is jam-packed with fascinating aviation analogies, little-known stories of Chuck Yeager, intriguing tales from the highest visibility base on the planet, internationally impactful activities in war-torn Iraq, and compelling real-life applications. It takes the reader along on a massively effective innovation journey while offering a roadmap for replication that can be used in any context to unleash talent, engage employees, and supercharge mission accomplishment.