In the latest episode of our True Connections Podcast, Alan Hooks speaks with futurist and best-selling author of Exponential Organizations and Exponential Transformation, Salim Ismail. During their conversation, Salim shares his insight into his work as an entrepreneur, the power of communities, and the advice he would give to entrepreneurs and organisations looking to create disruptive innovation.
Listen to the podcast
Click on the player below to hear Alan and Salim’s conversation:
Salim’s career has certainly been varied. Starting in management consulting before founding a non-profit in the wake of 9/11 and then throwing himself into the world of disruptive tech entrepreneurship, Salim has a wealth of insight to pass onto entrepreneurs.
One of the key lessons Salim highlights came from his time with Yahoo, where it quickly became apparent that trying to create disruptive innovation within the core of a large organisation simply does not work. Salim explains that, in a way, the immune system of the company attacks you in order retain control over branding, financials, compliance and so on, thereby inhibiting the freedom to be truly innovative. Therefore, Salim’s advice to other entrepreneurs would be to create your own mission rather than work within the confines of one of another organisation.
That need for a mission or purpose is a recurring theme among the entrepreneurs we speak with in the True Connections series. Salim explains that identifying a “massive transformative purpose” should be step one for any entrepreneur. That then leads to the second most important step - finding a community with a similar passion. From that foundation, one is able to create a diverse team with a common goal to create a breakthrough idea. This almost seems counter-intuitive but, as Salim explains, the route most take, which is to come across an idea and try to get that straight into the market, is very difficult. Whereas, by focusing on the problem first rather than a particular idea, it frees you emotionally to find the best solution to the problem.
But it’s not just start-ups that need to innovate. As Salim says, unless you disrupt your own company, someone else will do it for you. So existing companies should also continue to adapt, be agile and search for innovation in order to thrive – a trait we’ve seen in the spotlight during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While all this disruption can create havoc and uncertainty, Salim believes that the upside potential is incredible, citing that technological innovation is the major driver of progress in the world. So with a dozen technologies doubling in their capabilities each year, the challenge for the incumbents will be keeping up with the pace of change.
To hear Salim’s insights, please listen to the podcast using the player above.