CM 072: Bill Taylor on Innovation in Everyday Organizations

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Blog Post - TaylorCan extraordinary innovation happen in ordinary organizations? Yes, if you know how.

In his latest book, Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways, Bill Taylor shines a spotlight on innovation in organizations such as banks, fast-food joints, and nonprofits. And he shares how they do it.

Co-founder of Fast Company and bestselling author of the books, Practically Radical and Mavericks at Work, Bill has written for the NYTimes, the Guardian, and Harvard Business Review, and he blogs regularly for HBR. In this interview, he talks about:

  • How Silicon Valley companies make up less than 10 percent of businesses
  • How having a compelling lighthouse identity helps ordinary organizations stand out
  • The 4 key elements of a lighthouse identity
  • What it looks like when innovation meets the ordinary world of banking
  • The fact that we want to do business with companies and brands that are fun
  • Why being ordinary is not an option for every day organizations
  • How an investor seeks out missionary over mercenary businesses
  • The role teaching and psychology play in a fast-food standout
  • What happens when leaders read and discuss books together
  • Why an every day company requires its leaders to teach
  • What it looks like when company expansion is driven by employee growth
  • How big and rapid growth can decrease what makes a young organization so special
  • The incredible role thought leadership plays in extraordinary organizations
  • What Bill learned by spending a training day with employees from Quicken Loans
  • How being bold, exciting and compelling in the marketplace requires we be that way in the workplace
  • How the most successful organizations prioritize ideas and people
  • Steps experts can take to see their work with fresh eyes
  • What jazz can teach leaders about provocative competence
  • What it takes to find our next ideas and why that is more important than ever
  • How a wildly successful company prioritized learning to get unstuck
  • Needing to ask: When is the last time you did something for the first time?
  • Why we need to spend less time being interesting and more time being interested
  • How being interested is about seeking out big ideas and small sources of inspiration
  • Needing to ask: Am I learning as fast as the world is changing?
  • Why the future is shaped by tough-minded optimists
  • The importance of asking how to help more people benefit from the wealth of the few

Links to Topics Mentioned in this Podcast


Metro Banks

Willy Wonka

John Doerr of KPKB

Pals Sudden Service

Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award

The Art of Sun Tzu

The Innovation Formula by Amantha Imber

Quicken Loans and Dan Gilbert

Rosanne Haggerty and Community Solutions

MacArthur Fellows Program

Robert Wennett


John W. Gardner

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Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise!



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