Courageous Minds Only (CMO) began as a source of courage, inspiration, and ideas for corporate leaders to build the future in an uncertain world. Over the years, as leaders have had opportunities through virtual and regional conversations to connect around shared challenges and lessons learned, CMO has evolved into a well-connected community and mindset. We’re excited to continue the conversation here on our blog by sharing our third and final hack to operating with a Courageous Minds Only attitude. Hacks #1 and #2 are falling in love with the problem and reimagining the business you’re in. Hack #3 is moving forward with agility.
Once teams fall in love with the problem and start to identify solutions, we’ve noticed their tendency to quickly revert to execution or box-checking mode on their ideas. They may even sit on ideas for months, rather than pressure testing their thinking right away. Pressure testing — ideally against the most uncertain aspects of a set of compelling ideas — helps them understand what to perish, what to pivot, and ultimately, what to persevere.
We’ve also noticed that leaders excel in adopting this new way of thinking when they view it as the best way possible to solve uncertain challenges. This mentality stops leaders from needing to be the smartest people in the room with all of the answers. And instead, it allows them to operate like an entrepreneur and recognize that searching, not executing within their current business models, is what enables them to develop disruptive, new ideas and make substantial tweaks to their core businesses.
This disciplined, test and learn approach lets the results of experiments determine what to move forward with, while simultaneously de-risking ideas and building a body of evidence. We love this piece of feedback we received from Kimberly-Clark’s Family Care Sector President because it speaks to the power of a truly agile team:
“It was one of the easiest decisions I have made because every piece of information was built on the one before.” – Family Care Sector President, Kimberly-Clark
One of our favorite examples of a team moving forward with agility is how Cargill developed and tested a new product that went from early idea to customer adoption in 30 days. As the Cargill R&D team set out to develop an innovation pipeline of premium ingredients, they recognized that by simultaneously addressing meaningful independent restaurant operator Jobs To Be Done and satisfying meaningful consumer needs/trends, they could drive key distributor innovation programs and priorities. Cargill had lots of existing relationships with restaurant owners and operators, but typically only collaborated with them during the front-end stage of problem definition.
By reframing their mindset and partnerships, the team engaged with restaurant owners and operators later in the process once they had a new set of solutions identified. They were asked to help create clear KPIs and success metrics. After ideating, the team formulated, produced, and shipped seven unique prototypes in less than two weeks. Restaurant owners and operators then added the prototypes to their menus directly to gauge consumer interest in these new ideas. Leveraging this approach, Cargill had six new products in restaurants just two weeks post-ideation, one of which went on to be sold into a major distributor four weeks later.
The Cargill team operated with a Courageous Minds Only attitude every step of the way. Here’s how we know:
They also learned to integrate the voice of the consumer/customer and move fast.
“When our distributors saw that these ideas came from their customers (restaurant owners), they gave us much more credit for the validity of our ideas and were quick to find ways to partner.” – Cam Snaza, Marketing Manager, Cargill
To move forward in the face of uncertainty, you don’t need to have all of the answers to start. Nor do you need to be the smartest person in the room. We fool ourselves into thinking we do. But, you do need to have the courage to start, which is sometimes the most difficult step in operating with a Courageous Minds Only attitude. Trust that falling in love with new problems, reimagining the business you’re in, and moving forward with agility will help reveal the answers as you go.
Solving uncertain challenges isn’t always easy. It takes persistently showing up every single day and pushing ahead even when you don’t have all the answers or when things didn’t go your way. If you’re currently in the midst of tackling a big challenge, we encourage you to embrace a Courageous Minds Only mindset — your business needs you operating like this more than ever in the face of unprecedented uncertainty.
At the end of our Courageous Minds Only Chats, we always pose the same question to the leaders in the room, “Which insight or piece of advice from today’s conversation will you implement into your life or team tomorrow to enable your organization to move faster and smarter?” In a similar way, we encourage you to think about — and even write down — how you’ll start or continue operating with a Courageous Minds Only attitude after learning about all three of our hacks.
Have questions or want to learn more about our CMO Community? Get in touch with Jason Hauer, TGG Co-Founder & Chief Growth Officer. He leads a lot of our Chats and is deeply passionate about helping others find the courage, inspiration, and ideas needed to impact their organizations and our world in bold, unique ways.