3 Lessons: Inspired by Innovation

Inspired by Innovation Associations Now Fall 2019 Issue

Tom Madrecki, vice president of supply chain and logistics at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, isn’t afraid to take risks and test new ideas.

Tom Madrecki
Vice President of Supply Chain and Logistics
Grocery Manufacturers Association
Arlington, Virginia

Challenge the status quo.

Risk-taking imperils some companies and organizations, but I’d encourage anyone to bring a problem-solving mindset to the job and a willingness to think outside the box. There’s always a better way, and it’s often not what you expect. Empower individuals who think differently and recognize that innovation doesn’t just happen because you hired a chief innovation officer—it happens because people were willing to try and fail.

Remember politics.

Just because you have a great idea doesn’t mean that others will think it’s special. Getting things done in any organization means doing some political spadework. Who do you need to influence, and how do you gain their trust? Who do you need to lean on, and who do you need to overcome? There’s a reason the status quo exists, so approach implementation with the same problem-solving mindset as innovation itself.

Build unconventional allies.

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” isn’t quite what I mean, but there’s a point to it. Where there’s opposition, especially in the public realm, there’s also a chance to build a new bridge. Think critically about messaging and how you can align your organization to the very people who often object to it. You might be surprised to find how much overlap exists.