Visionaries, Integrators and Investors Oh My!

 

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The release of the latest EOS book, Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters, has created quite a buzz in entrepreneurial circles. Thought provoking conversations, blogs and articles regarding Visionaries and Integrators are happening all around me.

Having co-founded a business as an Integrator with my Visionary husband, I experienced firsthand the challenges and rewards of a strong V/I relationship for 18 years while we grew our business. In 2007, when Traction by Gino Wickman was released, we had been instinctively dividing and executing for 15 years. Traction was very affirming for us then and when reading Rocket Fuel last week my inner Integrator jumped up and shouted “YES!” with an enthusiastic fist pump (It just feels good to read something that self-affirming in a book that’s hitting #1 on Amazon!).

All this focus on Visionaries and Integrators led me to read an article published in Forbes this week, 5 Shortcomings Of A Visionary And How To Compensate that highlighted the shortcomings of visionaries from an investor’s perspective. The message that stood out in the article caused me to cringe a little on behalf of all the visionaries I know and love. As one visionary most eloquently put it,

“See that Forbes article today. I’ll paraphrase; I don’t want to invest in a loser visionary unless he is teamed with an integrator. Wow that’s straight.”

More than a few trips down memory lane have been inspired by all this. As I think back, none to fondly, of my Visionary and I’s experiences with investors during the 18 years we poured our “blood, sweat and tears” (cheesy quote but I assure you quite literal) into our business, it is difficult to back away from the inclination to write this article; 5 Shortcomings Of An Investor And How To Compensate. But I will, grudgingly, back away; maybe I’ve matured, maybe it’s my Fathers voice in my head or maybe I’m just saving it for another time. For now I’d like to focus on this; Visionaries, Integrators and Investors, where would any of us be without each other?

Without the Visionary’s “unusual energy, creativity, enthusiasm, and a propensity for taking risks” there would be huge gaping holes in place of Apple, Starbucks and Disney.  It’s true that “every organization [also] needs a steady counter-force that is focused on directional clarity”, (another fist pump for all the Integrators out there!). It is also true that many visions succumb to a harsh reality when under-capitalized because “blood, sweat and tears” aren’t enough to turn great visions into great companies. It requires a trifecta of new ideas, execution and capital to make a success out of any startup.

I too am a proponent of capitalizing on your strengths, which requires recognizing them, as well as your weaknesses, so that you can value the strengths others bring to the table. To quote one of our key advisors “Each of you on your own is great at what you do, but together you are unstoppable!”

Visionaries need Integrators and capital to complete their vision, Integrators need a well-funded vision to execute on and Investors need startups created so there is a business plan to execute. Some molds must be broken in order to provide a return on investment that out performs an IRA.

If your strength is being an Investor, use that capital to attract a complementary Visionary and Integrator team that can create the vision and make it happen; then get out of the way and let them create a win-win-win opportunity for all of you. No new start up can succeed without a dose of unrealistic optimism.

Investment without vision is just a tax write off in the making.

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