A manifesto for mavericks

2006

The only companies and leaders that matter are those with the guts to be distinctive and disruptive, argue Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company, and Polly LaBarre, in their excellent "Manifesto for Mavericks".

We believe that a new generation of hard-charging companies, change-oriented executives, and breakthrough-minded entrepreneurs is inventing a more exciting, more compelling, more rewarding future for business. Across the economy, mavericks are winning big at business — attracting millions of customers, creating thousands of jobs, generating tens of billions of dollars of wealth — by rethinking the logic of how business gets done. They have devised provocative and instructive answers to four of the timeless challenges that face organizations of every size and leaders in every field: how you make strategy, how you unleash new ideas, how you connect with customers, how your best people achieve great results.

There are, of course, many ways to be a maverick — experimentation and individuality go with the territory. But most of the mavericks we've come to know, based on our in-depth access to 32 different organizations in a wide variety of industries, subscribe to a set of principles — about strategy, leadership, creativity, and success — that represent the new face of business at its best, a better way to compete, lead, and win.

Four of these principles – which Taylor and LaBarre explore in some depth are:

1. Being different makes all the difference.
2. Sharing your values beats selling value.
3. Nobody is as smart as everybody.
4. The people are the company.

But as they also point out (and how true it is), "we haven't met all that many CEOs who could provide a compelling response to a simple question we like to ask when we visit an organization for the first time: Why would great people want to work here?"

A Manifesto for Mavericks

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Older Comments

'Why would great people want to work here?' Doesn't each of us think of ourselves as 'great' in some way? Having worked many years for two companies who perceived my great ideas to be 'nothing but trouble', I branched out on my own. Now I can truthfully answer why one 'great' person wants to work exactly here and nowhere else.

Mike L. Chicago

Thanks for this post. I would agree with Taylor and LaBarre's fourth principle most: The people are the company. That's something my small business consulting nonprofit, Winning Workplaces, finds day in and day out, both in our Best Boss/Success Story organizations and in seeking out the latest management and business research.

I also like the question you posed at the end: Why would great people want to work here? I think there's a lot of CEOs who would either hesitate to answer, or give you a long-winded answer that doesn't really reflect why people are committed in the company's current work culture.

Speaking of mavericks and other types of leaders, we're moving away from our Best Bosses recognition program for small businesses and, in cooperation with The Wall Street Journal, toward our new Top Small Workplaces recognition program for exceptional small organizations. If your business has fewer than 500 employees and earns less than $200 million annually, you're eligible. Nominations are being accepted through January 2007 via Startup Journal's website at http://www.startupjournal.com/about/entryform.html. Winners will be announced in the StartupJournal print edition in October 2007, and we will also honor them at a Conference the same month (date TBA).

I heartily encourage your readers to submit nominations. We'll see how many great workplaces truly are run by mavericks!

Mark Chicago, IL