In one of my conversations for our Disrupt Disruption podcast Maurice Conti posed a heretical question to ask when embarking on an innovation initiative in a large/r company:
What will happen when you are successful?
Sounds innocent and positive enough, right? But when you really start thinking about it, many companies and their people actually don’t want the new, innovative, or even disruptive thing be successful — as it would upend the existing order, pivot the company from its current trajectory into a whole new orbit, and require people to unlearn a whole bunch of old habits and insights.
I think the question is equally as valid in the context of a startup, new initiative, or even new job: What will happen when you are successful? Is that truly what you are looking for? And if not — what does that mean for you right now?
Let me give you an example: A little while ago I had a conversation with a startup founder. She had a great, bold idea — one which required a lot of heavy lifting to make it work. Which also meant, that should she be successful it would be near endless hours of work, a lot of persuading to raise the necessary funding, and most likely all of this over a ten-year journey just to get to the point of success. After that the real work would begin… Our friend thought long and hard about it and, in the end, decided to not pursue the path — she had other priorities and things she wanted to achieve in life in that timeframe.
So… What will happen for you when you are successful?