Brainfood: Speaking out


Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


Michael Lynch's speech at a recent management awards ceremony showed that a bit of self-deprecation can get the audience on-side. After an unsteady start, he questioned the logic of being asked to speak on 'the capacity to innovate'. 'I'm the guy who sat next to Erik Schmit just after he'd become CEO at Google and told him he didn't have a chance. I thought Yahoo! had the search engine business tied up.' He moved up through the gears to deliver an accessible insight into innovation and how to harness it, leaving no doubt that his self-criticism had been mere play.

Lynch kept his light touch - 'Sometimes,' he said, 'innovation can have damaging effects. I have suffered airplane food and reality TV.' But he delivered substance when it mattered, breaking down his subject into its fundamentals. 'Innovation is all about finding out what people need, and what they want.' Once you have had your idea, it's essential to build the right environment to let it flourish. He cited his own experience in his birthplace, Chelmsford in Essex. He told how Marconi chose it as a base and how his first job was at GEC Marconi. 'What has happened to a once great company? You could see it then - a cost accounting-driven culture.' Lynch took a sideswipe at the late, lamented Lord Weinstock, claiming his stifling of innovation was part of the company's demise.

'The problem is, you can do all the right things and still not get innovation.

Cost accountants don't like that.'

Key moment: The disclosure that he gets all objections to new ideas out first and then forces critics to think about how those ideas might succeed.

Key lesson: Self-deprecating humour hooks an audience.

Silver tongue Khalid Aziz, a visiting professor of business communications at Southampton University, chairs the Aziz Corporation -

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Martin Sorrell: “There’s something about the unfairness of it that drives me”

EXCLUSIVE: The agency juggernaut on bouncing back, what he would do with WPP and why...

The 10 values that will matter most after COVID-19

According to a survey of Management Today readers.

Smart ways of becoming operationally resilient (without breaking the bank)

There is a trade-off between efficiency and reliability, but it doesn’t have to be zero-sum....

A simple way of achieving work-life balance

A new study has looked into the impact of setting boundaries - and how organisational...

35 Women Under 35 2020: Britain's brightest young business leaders

As the UK heads towards the worst recession for decades, these talented young businesswomen will...

Gratitude as a management tool

A simple thank you can go a long way.