Let your company's idea monkeys run wild

But use your ringleaders to bring ideas to fruition

Mike Maddock is founding partner of innovation agency Maddock Douglas. Mike Maddock is founding partner of innovation agency Maddock Douglas.

In every office — no matter what industry or region — managers must deal with differing personalities. Whether it's the kiss-up, the slacker, the negative Nelly, workaholic, the "idea monkey" or the "ringleader," personality differences are commonplace in modern American offices. 

But according to Mike Maddock, opening keynote speaker at this year's NAILBA conference in Dallas, it's how a manager finds balance between an idea monkey — one who is teeming with energy about new ideas and innovations — and a ringleader — one who makes the ideas come to life — that can lead a company to long-term success. 

Need an example of an idea monkey? Think Walt Disney. It was him who had the wild and crazy ideas that eventually made Walt Disney World into a global destination and one of the most popular brands on earth. But those ideas (like, say, a talking mouse) would have lingered on the innovation shelf for a lifetime if it weren't for Walt's brother, Roy. It was Roy who acted as the ringleader and had the wherewithall to reign in Walt's sometimes over-the-top ideas. And it was Roy who took Walt's plausible ideas from fantasy to reality.

And what about Apple? Steve Jobs was the face of the tech giant, with vision and creativity and passion unbounded. But it was his introvert sidekick, Steve Wozniack, who was the ringleader, taking Job's ideas from whiteboard graffiti to popular products. 

These are just two examples, but they're examples of the most important aspect of a successful company: Balance.   

"Ringleaders are about convergence," said Maddock. "Many times ringleaders feel it's their job to save the company from crazy idea monkeys. Companies that have an idea monkey-only culture go off the cliff in 18 months to three years. Balance the inspiration with the empowerment. Balance idea monkeys with ringleaders. Balance is where the action is. Who is the yin for your yang?"

Maddock is a self-proclaimed idea monkey, entrepreneur, inventor, writer and speaker whose purpose is "to inspire and empower curiousity."

I'd say with his keynote speech at this year's NAILBA conference, he did just that.  

About the Author
Emily Holbrook

Emily Holbrook

Emily Holbrook is the Executive Managing Editor for National Underwriter Life & Health and Markets Channel Editor for LifeHealthPro.com. Emily has covered the financial, risk management and insurance industries for more than a decade, with her work appearing in Risk Management and the National Law Review. She graduated with dual degrees in Finance and English and worked in the financial industry as a fixed income trading administrator and analyst before becoming a writer. Emily is also a freelance food writer. She can be reached at eholbrook@SummitProNets.com or on Twitter @LHPro_Emily.

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