One of the great myths that Digital Transformation has brought is the importance of innovation for the success of a company. Although it is true that innovation does have an important weight in determining which companies are successful at this time, we cannot ignore other pillars of business management in order to seek the song of innovative sirens as the only value proposition, as a button much admired in the time shows: Elon Musk.
The multiple South African businessman has a well-earned reputation as an innovator as the founder of Tesla Motors, Space X and Hyper-loop, thereby innovating the world of transportation; in fact, I use it as an example of the Fifth Wave of Transformation and innovation in my conference to achieve the Model X of exponential growth. However, his personality has caused his companies to enter some crises, and investors and the market have doubts and misgivings about the viability and follow-up of his projects.
In a profile published, they noted how a leading analyst reminded Musk that in the business world “being a super-innovative is not enough” to have credibility with creditors, investors, consumers and the market in general. And that credibility is gained, they mention, when it is shown that one is capable of executing the plan. After seeing how this issue has developed, I have some feelings that I want to share with you.
1. Power intoxicates.
Elon Musk has managed his companies in a totally valid way, although perhaps not well seen by analysts: he maintains tight control of them and is not willing to let go, and the example is clear in Tesla. At the electric car maker, although Musk has only 22% of the company’s capital, the management structure is designed in such a way that any initiative needs his approval to succeed.
According to the company, this supermajority scheme is necessary for Musk to carry out his mission and protect Tesla from hostile purchasing operations. And while all of that may be true, in practice superpower is intoxicating and can make the CEO feel untouchable or with the ability to ‘get away with it’ when the reality is otherwise.
2. Image does matter
The fact that Elon Musk is the main face of Tesla, makes the perception of him confused with the perception of the company, therefore, the importance of regulating the behavior of the founder is capital. Especially when he has become something of a media rock star and enjoys making controversial and inflammatory statements or showcasing his relationship with British singer Grimes. In this case, one of the traditional maxims that seem appropriate to rescue is that of sobriety when managing a company.
Anyone who knows me knows that I do not mean to change the essence of who we are, but to understand that as CEO, we are usually the face of a company and that can seriously affect the valuation of the company. Maybe yes, and Elon Musk seems to have already realized this, it is convenient to calm down a bit, leave some distance with social networks, and focus more on the day-to-day of the company.
3. Innovation is important, but not the only thing
The great lesson from all this is that innovation, extraordinary as it may be, alone is not going to lead us to success. I think the innovation is clear and no one can deny it in the case of Elon Musk and all his companies. However, without a solid structure, without adequate training in handling circumstances, we can get into unnecessary trouble.
Innovation is undoubtedly a fundamental ingredient; but it must be accompanied by market knowledge, business management, leadership, project management, press management, emotional intelligence and, of course, a multidisciplinary team that helps us complements our weaknesses.