If you aren’t disrupting your business model, someone else will – Jim Carroll

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Why Santa rocks at innovation!

It’s likely a good time to put into perspective the critical lessons we can learn from someone who is a true master of leadership, insight, creativity and innovation.

None other than the jolly old fellow himself!

Santa is an innovation master. Analyze his leadership style, and his operational insight, motivational style, approach to creativity, forward thinking orientation, or any other management trait, and he has it nailed.

Here’s what we can learn from Santa Claus.

  • He is future oriented: Santa knows. His talent for insight is unmatched. He’s aware. He’s sees you when you’re sleeping, for example. He knows when you’re awake. For goodness sake!
  • His operational insight is pure genius: he’s organized. He’s got a list. He checks it twice. Operational excellence is his middle name.
  • He’s a fanatic on customer oriented innovation: he knows exactly what the customer wants. There’s no other individual or organization who has such deep insight into the customer. And he’s had this core focus for hundreds of years.
  • He excels at customer service: he always answers customer’s mail. And even if he doesn’t, your peers (whether they be your parents or your friends) will let you know in no uncertain terms that even if he didn’t answer, he did get and read your message.
  • He has mastered organizational logistics: his delivery system puts FedEx to shame. The timing and execution of a massive burst of activity in such a brief period of time should be required reading for anyone interested in how to manage a supply chain in the global economy. Not only that, but he has been doing it for years without the benefit of a GPS.
  • He inspires his staff with a singular mission: there’s leadership, and then there’s Santa. He has brought together a team that stays singularly, absolutely, completely, focused on one straightforward mission. They fulfill their duty with passion, enthusiasm and a smile. They wear cool hats that serve the purpose of reminding them that they are on a team. They are often known for even singing while they work. Now that’s leadership!
  • He is not afraid of hiring those who are different: Rudoph. Red Nosed. Reindeer. Enough said. Santa has got this diversity thing down to a science. Not to forget the previously mentioned staff, most of whom are quite altitude challenged.
  • He is mindful of work life balance: some people take a few weeks off for a holiday. Some might take off a month. Santa takes off entire seasons in order to recoup from his big night.
  • He has maintained the essence of the brand name despite massive change: ensuring brand longevity over a span of several hundred years is probably the most impressive feat in branding that we have ever seen. In an era in which brands can become boring, out of date or tired, Santa has managed to keep the brand image intact.
  • He excels at keeping up with constantly changing consumer demand: he is a trend watcher, always on top of what comes next. A new toy? Santa knows. A new toy that isn’t quite appropriate for a particular child? Santa knows. Santa was doing one-to-one marketing/selling long before marketing entered the college curriculum.
  • He has integrity as a core virtue: his leadership core is based on knowing who’s naughty, and who’s nice. Ethics are at the heart of his mission, and he uses this to inspire and lead his staff, suppliers, customers, and elves. He rewards those who excel, and provides a blunt management point of view on those who have been naughty. He puts success into simple, basic, concrete terms, and in doing so, inspires those of us who have been naughty to do better the next time. And the essence of his ethical message means that there is an entire generation who maintain good behavior, careful of his watchful eye.
  • He constantly transitions his brand to the next generation: Santa is the master of reinventing the brand. Even while one generation becomes aware that Santa will play a different role in their life, they ensure that other generations have deep loyalty to him. There’s no other leader who can pull off this feat!
  • He is a wizard at HR management: the elves are there for the busy season, and then redeploy themselves as garden gnomes during the summer time. Santa mastered proactive job-oriented skills access long before human resource professionals even came to realize that multiple career paths would be the way of the future.
  • He’s reliable: he shows up. He’s coming to town. We know that. There’s a song about this reliability. Even Jack Welch doesn’t have a song.

I dunno about you, but I’m inspired by the fellow!




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