Fast Company co-founder talks innovation, leadership at Fast KC

The Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC) had its annual luncheon, Fast KC, last Friday and shared progress on regional commerce and plans for the future of Kansas City region. The progress report indicated Kansas City has fostered significant job creation, with the expansion of companies like Cerner boosting the regional economy. Bill Taylor, co-founder

The Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC) had its annual luncheon, Fast KC, last Friday and shared progress on regional commerce and plans for the future of Kansas City region. The progress report indicated Kansas City has fostered significant job creation, with the expansion of companies like Cerner boosting the regional economy.

Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company and recent author of “Practically Radical,” was Fast KC’s keynote speaker. Taylor (left, photo from kcadc.com) delivered a talk about innovation and leadership in business. The speech centered around a set of ideas and collection of case studies of what it means to do something great. Here are a few of the highlights from Taylor’s keynote:

On Focus

“The only way to stand from the crowd is to stand for something special,” Taylor said. He went on to describe how we live in the age of disruption and, in this age, we must focus on being the “most good at something” and not on reaching the middle ground of being all things to all people or organizations. “It’s not good enough anymore to be pretty good at everything,” he said. “You’ve got to figure out how you can be the most of something.” 

On Strategy

Taylor talked about the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and how, when the executive team was presented with an opportunity to rebuild the hospital, the CEO of the hospital took the opportunity as a way to treat “new ideas as a breath of new life.” Instead of hiring someone who knew medicine and was a veteran running hospitals, the executive team decided to hire someone from the hospitality industry. “We can’t let what we know limit what we can imagine,” Taylor said, describing how the differences in opinion made the decision of hiring a person at the hospitality seem risky. “It’s not radical to do something this radical. It’s logical to do something this radical.” This quote from Taylor hammered home the point Taylor wanted to make about new ideas being a way to exercise thought leadership and make strategic decisions.

On Culture

We’ve all heard the famous question, “What keeps you up at night?” It’s a common cliche question, Taylor said, and he suggested that it’s the wrong question to ask. Instead, Taylor said, there’s a more powerful question you can ask yourself: “What wakes you up in the morning?” He followed this question by describing how values drive culture and how values must hold true everyday in your respective organization. This drive of values and culture can help connect success to intangible values that future organizations will based on now and in the future. “Success today is about so much more than features, price, performance or pure economic value,” he said. “It’s about passion, emotion, identity, and sharing your values.”

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