Updated: Jul 11
They say there is a very fine line between being a visionary, and being wrong. The trouble is, we don’t have time machines to see into the future – so you have to be a visionary to find out if you made the right choice.
In today’s blog, we’re discussing what “Rocket Fuel” by Gino Wickman doesn’t tell you about finding your matching visionary/integrator.
FUELLING THE ROCKET: “When leaders are aligned, great things can happen. Leverage your differences. Ignite your leadership with Rocket Fuel.”
So, who is Gino Wickman anyways? He’s probably best known for developing the Entrepreneurial Operating System, an innovation in business model design that uses tried and proven techniques to help budding leaders achieve their goals and reach the level of success they desire. “Rocket Fuel” is just one book of the larger Entrepreneurial Operating System series, and is essentially a “how to partner up for dummies”, explaining and managing the relationship between both the visionary and the integrator within a business to increase its efficiency and up its growth rate. It all boils down to how well the visionary and the integrator work as a team. THE VISIONARY: What does the visionary look like in your business? Spoiler alert – it may be you. This is a strategic thinker and ideas man, who typically founds the business and has a clear idea of the future direction of the company. A big picture thinker, they’re concerned with setting the tone for company culture, and are also heavily involved in managing client-side relationships. Their strengths lie in the fact that their passion and enthusiasm is infectious, inspiring those around them. A visionary spits out ideas like the conveyor belt of a factory, the volume is immense – although they range in value from amazing to god-awful. Their thought process is that of a hunter seeking out its prey, always on the constant look out for new concepts, better deals, business opportunities and what the client will need from them down the track. There are a few drawbacks though, a couple of blind spots that mean that a visionary can’t head up a company along and experience meaningful success. Day to day operations bore a visionary, and they often get easily bored with the engine room type functions that keep a business going. Staying focused is also a problem, as too many ideas can muddy up the waters and cloud the implementation of the right plan of action. Concurrently, the sheer number of ideas a visionary can deliver means that their management teams often can’t keep up with the pace, leading to the visionary becoming frustrated. They are notoriously slack at holding people accountable for their actions, as there is a driver for the visionary to focus on themselves instead of developing the staff around them. The number one priority is the ideas machine, and sometimes everything else doesn’t just magically fall into place. THE INTEGRATOR: An integrator is the polar opposite. They get bogged down in the nitty gritty, gaining traction in the business by focusing on the often-thankless, everyday tasks like administration, protocols, and processes. A natural leader, an integrator thrives in a leadership role and has no trouble sorting out the riff raff in management and keeping them on a tight leash. What they do, they do well. An integrator is able to juggle many balls at once without them hitting the ground, and be across all facets of the business – sales, marketing, operations, and finance. They’re the Mr Consistent, and apply operational policy throughout the company – holding people personally accountable if they don’t tow the line. They’re the voice of reason, the person who removes the unnecessary baggage that come with the visionary’s ideas and draw up a procedure to implement them and amalgamate them as part of the business. As you can probably tell, there aren’t many who appreciate the work an integrator does. This can lead to them feeling pessimistic about their role within the business, and have to constantly play the bad guy when they have to shoot down many of the visionary’s ideas as not feasible – a spoilsport of sorts. An integrator is the embodiment of “slow and steady wins a race”, and have to slow down the pace often to balance out things like unsustainable growth, or reckless investment of resources in the wrong idea. THE RELATIONSHIP: The relationship between visionary and integrator can be summed up as “the odd couple.” They’re at opposite ends of the business spectrum, day and night personalities that are two sides of the same coin. There is always a simmering tension between the two, the visionary thinking that the integrator is slowing down the business growth too much and being a stick in the mud, and the integrator fighting a losing battle to reign in the lofty ambitions of the visionary. This relationship can, and often does fail. There is a health amount of conflict that’s needed for a business to be successful, but personal pride can often get in the way and see the two parting ways over their differences instead of working them out. To survive, a visionary needs to generate the ideas needed to solve issues. To be the eternal optimist and “grass is always greener” thinker of the two, working on the business execute their grand scheme. On the other hand, a good integrator will identify issues within the running of the company, and cherry pick the best ideas moving forward. Their job is to manage the people and resources available to them, and to bring lofty ambitions back down to Earth – to be as realistic as possible. The put in the hard yards within the business to make sure the vision can, and will, be executed. WHAT IT DOESN’T TELL YOU: This brings us to the gaping chasm, the big gap in knowledge – the one thing that “Rocket Fuel” doesn’t tell you about finding your matching visionary or integrator. It’s simple – how on Earth do you do it? As a visionary, you have the idea, you have the clear picture of what the business can be. You need an integrator to complement your personality, and challenge your creative process. The first point of call is to clearly map out your plan based on the industry, where you want to be, and what needs to happen in between. The next thing is an honest and accurate appraisal of yourself – your strengths, weaknesses, and how you work. There needs to be a level of acknowledgement that you need an integrator, and a conscious willingness to find one. A good tactic is utilising the services of a recruiter. It’s their job to put the right people in the right roles, and they’re a hell of a lot better experienced at doing that than you are. Having candidates vetted by a unbiased third party who is aware of your requirements means that every interview you conduct is meaningful, and that the odds of finding a compatible integrator go up exponentially. You may find that you need an old head on your young shoulders, and that a seasoned veteran who can comfortably steer the ship frees up your day to continue working on your budding business. Likewise, a visionary who has been around the block a few times and has been a part of founding multiple, successful businesses may not want a stubborn bull as their partner in crime – but a more pliable and enthusiastic younger integrator. Integrators have the advantage of knowing exactly what they’re all about, and have a firm handle on their craft. They know what must be done to put ideas into action. Most will have a proven track record, and once again, would rely on a recruiter to put them in front of a promising visionary so they can make the choice as to whether the business venture is viable, or just a pie in the sky dream. It has to be said that this process doesn’t happen overnight. There may be initial chemistry and enthusiasm between the visionary and integrator, but it may fizzle out or not translate into a healthy working relationship. It’s all about the long term, building the partnership that’s needed to get that ball into the end zone to score the winning touchdown. The first 90 days of employment will have the integrator evaluating the business’ operational side – observing, listening, and asking the important questions. Over the course of the first year in the business, an integrator will also gradually increase their involvement within the business, and begin to make decisions about how to go about the day to day running of things, as well as analysing whether the right staff are in key roles – and whether they need to be replaced. After this first year, if things are working the business will become more successful. If not, then the two have to part ways – and the visionary needs to repeat the employment process to find the right integrator for them and their business. So to wrap it all up, every visionary with their head up in the clouds needs an integrator that can make the hard decisions and put their ideas into practice. The inherent conflict and tension between the two is healthy, but too little, or too much, will be to the detriment of the company. The integrator has to be the right fit for the visionary’s goals, and conversely, an integrator needs to know when they’re beating a dead horse and need to find another business to be a part of.
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