Ever see a successful leader or business and wonder how they do it? They are the kind who always seem to have air beneath their wings and wind in their sails, constantly finding the elusive updrafts to soar to new and exciting heights. The secret to their success, however, does not reside in their flawlessness. In actuality, it is rather the opposite. Successful innovators experience failure and frustration all the time; it is in their preparations and their responses to those failures which define them. Larry Osborne extrapolates this critical point in his book for the innovator titled Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret: Why Serial Innovators Succeed Where Others Fail.
Far from the disingenuous motivational speaker with slick hair, political smile, and messages that guarantee your success, Osborne isn’t afraid to tell you that failure is a part of the equation. And that is the dirty little secret of innovation: most innovations fail! Not because change and innovation are unimportant, or that all great ideas are doomed to fail, but that “failure is an integral part of the change process.” So the book’s advice revolves around the crucial notion that “success is not found in their ability to avoid failure. It’s found in their ability to minimize the impact of failure.”
You’ll find yourself flying through these 21 engaging chapters that give you a front seat row behind the eyes of a successful innovator, his experience adding an element of authenticity to his advice. As a senior pastor at the successful North Coast Church in northern San Diego County, widely viewed as a highly innovative and influential church, he verifies many of his principles with personal anecdotes.
This brings up why I am actually quite excited about a book like this, more so than I might usually admit, because this book is applicable to businesses and churches alike! Too often, I’ve been frustrated by the way so many churches and ministries have regulated themselves to this ho-hum non-profit status, as if their existence is nothing but; as if they are not expected to operate like every other respectable, responsible, for-profit company. Since they are not overtly trying to make any money they don’t have to live up to any particular standards outside of meeting the regulations for 501(C)(3) status. Baloney! Pastors should read this book. Board and committee members of charitable organizations should read this book. Even churches, missionaries, food banks, and special interest groups need to innovate in order to stay helpful, relevant, and make any sort of an impact.
I would recommend this book for any kind of leader or entrepreneur. Not because this book will necessarily blow your mind or change your life, but it will affect the way you think about innovation and risks involved. It’s not about lack of risk; it is about calculated risk. It’s not about absence of failure; it is about preparing yourself to recover from failure. I’ll surely keep it around as a practical handbook. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.