Josh Linkner says running a business is an endless series of choices. Whether it be hiring a new employee, implementing a new internal program or changing the way a business goes to market, life as an executive is filled with multiple-choice questions.
An executive with the ability to identify the safest, smartest option can run a profitable business for a long time. But to be a revolutionary — to fully change a business or industry for the better — Linkner says an executive needs to be able to see more than the best choice between Options A, B or C. He also requires the openness and willingness to look beyond the conventional. To find the unrefined option that could make all the difference in the world.
He needs to be willing to consider Option X, Linkner says.
“I think when we are immersed in a business it becomes easy to focus on common mindsets and approaches. We limit ourselves to the most obvious choices,” says Linkner. “But when we do that we don’t see those other choices that may be out there and could yield all the differences in the world.”
Linkner has built his career on a willingness to find an exploit Option X. A founder and builder of five tech companies, Linkner is a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and a President Barack Obama Champion of Change award recipient. He currently operates a venture capital firm in his native Detroit that focuses on the city’s urban revitalization, and is an avid writer and inspirational speaker.
Scheduled to give the keynote address at this month’s Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW), Linkner says he is excited to bring his knowledge of Option X and alternative business thinking to the aftermarket.
Linkner says his time in the tech, investment and speaking worlds have helped crystalize to him that businesses today “can no longer rely on the models of the past and expect the same result.”
“The human mind is wonderful at pattern recognition and routine. When you’re a kid and you touch a hot stove you immediately learn not to do that again,” he says. “Business has been like that for a long time, too. When something works or doesn’t work people remember that … but while that’s great in a static environment, in this rapidly changing world it’s not as valuable.”
Linkner says thriving today requires business owners and executives to put aside preconceived notions and challenge themselves to find out-of-box solutions that can be far superior to obvious choices. “It is the responsibility of leaders to look for other ways to do things and to be successful,” he says.
He acknowledges the difficultly, and says his upcoming HDAW presentation will address how business leaders can change their thinking habits and open their minds to opportunity. He adds that when compared to the alternative — stagnation or inactivity — creative thinking isn’t actually as scary as it seems.
“We hear words like innovation and it seems overwhelming, but you can de-risk innovation,” he says. “You can try new things in a fixed environment” before rolling them out on a larger scale.
Please be sure to check back later this month as Truck Parts & Service previews all of this year’s Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) speakers.