It occurred to me while evaluating the contributions a select group of savants gave us over the last few hundred years, that the number of savants, at least in specific areas, has hit the innovation and transformative wall.
Classical music had Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. Art had Rembrandt, Picasso, and Van Gogh.
Rock and roll had the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin. Some would argue (include me in that group), that music post-1974 hit Another Brick In The Wall—Pink Floyd (I was the first kid on my block to buy everything and anything released by Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Queen). Those of you in the skinny jeans crowd may have to Google those bands.
So, back to the premise that Cream rises to the top (White Room– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkae0-TgrRU), and since then nobody has delivered anything that surpasses what happened many years ago. We are mired in the brilliance of what was.
Nobody’s playlist includes a classical piece of music composed in the last one hundred years. With the exclusion of Andrew Wyeth, nobody can name a painter whose paintings sell for millions of dollars.
Innovation hit a wall. And since no one is light years ahead of being mediocre, mediocrity looks pretty good to your board of directors. In business, The Pursuit of Excellence has a new standard bearer—In pursuit of mediocrity. We are no worse than every other firm. Define low expectations, and meet them. And then move on to your next challenge. Mediocrity is okay as long as all of the other firms are mediocre. You may be looking up at the bottom, but if all of the other firms are equally poor, being no worse than them is not a disadvantage.
Unless you consider your customers. Your patients. In healthcare, the people whose care your firm is supposed to be managing are looking for the next Mozart while your board is humming the latest hit from Lady Gaga.
Innovation and transformation are not defined as kicking it up a notch; going from mediocre to mediocre plus one. Giving the people in your call centers a cutting edge Bluetooth headset and adding skylights and free coffee is not innovative. Changing the font of your website and changing its color scheme to cerulean blue does not help you acquire patients or retain them. It does not improve care.
Lipstick on a pig.
But if you could get the pig to provide a remarkable experience for every person, every time, at any time, and on any device, you may have something.
Until then, download a copy of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon, buy a poster of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, and hope the stars align with your firm’s business strategy. If that doesn’t work, buy your favorite shade of lipstick, find a pig, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.