What's Your Firebird?

Josh Linkner

Josh Linkner

Five-time tech entrepreneur, hyper-growth CEO, NY Times bestselling author and venture capitalist.

In 1953, a team of the most creative designers and engineers at General Motors set out to make history. Their task: invent the prototype car of the future. Unlike their mass-production counterparts who focused on streamlined operations, cost control, and maximizing profits, the dreamers on the Firebird project were charged with pushing the boundaries of possibility without the burden of commercialization.

These futuristic prototypes did more than turned heads. In addition to showing the world what the company was capable of, the models were the genesis of major innovation still being used today. The Firebird prototypes were the first to use disc brakes, independent suspension, and cruise control. In fact, the designers were so advanced, they were the first to suggest autonomous vehicles, pioneering automated guidance systems and "no hold" steering.

The Ford GT, the Acura NSX, and the Audi R8 elevate more than just their respective reputations. They serve as a learning lab, allowing innovators the freedom to explore and create bold new futures. In the auto business, today's supercars fuel tomorrow's mass-production breakthroughs.

Which leads to the question what's your Firebird?

While most of our time and energy should be spent delivering current work for existing customers, we can't forget to allocate resources to build our own Firebirds. Whether you sell insurance, run a restaurant, or distribute airplane fuel, there's always some area in your business that is ripe for experimentation. Building and testing a prototype of our ideal services or products will eventually lead to the breakthroughs we seek. This approach also creates a safe environment for creative exploration outside of our present-tense obligations.

Start with a blank canvas and get to work on your own farfetched masterpiece. The ideal version of the future. The prototype of what's possible, how to supremely serve customers and deliver maximum value to the world. By starting with the extreme incarnation and then later ratcheting back from boldness, we avoid the trap of incremental thinking. Tweaking an existing approach rarely leads to breakthrough thinking, while developing the ideal prototype of the future will allow you to seize new possibility.

Ladies and Gentlemen Start your engines. Your race begins now.

The post What's Your Firebird? appeared first on Josh Linkner.

Reimagine
Ayal Lanternari was facing the same angst and frustration that millions of other parents endure. His infant son was crying for food in the middle of the night, creating an agonizing moment for both dad and child while the bottle was heating to the proper temperature. Since baby milk can't be microwaved or heated directly without losing the nu...
Read More
Fender Guitar's Rules of Groundbreaking Innovation
Since Leo Fender started making guitars back in 1946, the Fender name has become synonymous with musical innovation.The iconic brand has outfitted countless music legends with their precious axes, and has set the standard with instantly recognizable inventions including the Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Jazzmaster. Today, Fender is the large...
Read More
Do It Anyway
Born in 1914 in Austria, actress Hedy Lamarr was the personification of glamor. Discovered for her beauty in her teens, she dazzled audiences from the silver screen for decades. At 19, she raised eyebrows by doing what is believed to be one of the first nude sex scenes in a movie. The film was banned by Hitler, and became a widespread controver...
Read More
Why a Culture of Innovation is the Only Path to Sustainable Growth and Success
You've fine-tuned your processes, extracted every drop of cost from the system, and are meeting basic customer needs. In the previous era of business, strict managerial controls may have been enough, but today running a tight ship is table stakes. If we're honest with ourselves, business as usual likely poses an existential threat – sooner than...
Read More
The 14 Rules of History-Making Teams
It's often been said that "culture eats strategy for breakfast." The notion is that the belief system - or core operating principles - of an organization are what matters most at the ground level. These core beliefs guide everyday decision-making, behavior, and responses to challenges. Clearly defined core values permeate every corner of a comp...
Read More
Lady Gaga's First Song; Picasso's First Painting
At the age of four, Lady Gaga wasn't bringing down the house for 30,000 roaring fans. In fact, Stefani Germanotta didn't even become the Gaga we know until she'd studied and practiced music for years. Just like every other kid who picks up an instrument, she took up piano and plunked out an uneven version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Pablo P...
Read More
Skip the Resolution; Go With a New Year's Theme instead
The last week of December marks the creation of uncountable New Year's resolutions. By the end of next month, however, the vast majority will be broken. So many of us resolve to change, only to have those commitments meet an untimely death. A single, small temptation can lead us astray, causing us to conclude that our resolutions are anything bu...
Read More
The Tyranny of Good Enough
Your chicken salad sandwich wasn't bad, really. It was 'good enough.' The service wasn't speedy, but also wasn't horribly slow. It was just good enough. The environment was a bit messy and a tad dirty, but didn’t justify a call to the Health Department. "I guess it was good enough," you mutter as you leave the mediocre restaurant. While the chef...
Read More
The Power of Surprise and Delight
Following the polite knock on my hotel room door, I was stunned. "Just a little something to welcome you to our hotel," said the smiling and well-appointed young man as he placed it down on the desk in my room. The beautiful display included a chocolate guitar, hand-dipped strawberries, and a few other candies. Along with some musical notes, th...
Read More
Heads Down vs. Heads Up
We've all heard people in the business world proclaim that they are "heads down" on a project. Or that they are unable to explore new opportunities since they are "heads down in execution mode." Consider, for a moment, the advantages of being "heads up" instead. Let's compare the two states of being: Heads Down Focused on delivery Tuning out dis...
Read More