We are all familiar with what a superhero is supposed to be. The typical superhero has powers and abilities beyond normal human beings. The typical superhero is quiet, humble, kind, yet powerful when they need to be. And the typical superhero is rarely the person you would expect to be a superhero, yet with the right decisions and timing, they save lives and save the day. There is a new breed of real-life superhero that live and work among us, and we call them enablers.
Think for a moment what a superhero actually does. Besides feats of strength and agility, superheroes are enablers, in the sense that they do things that allow ideal outcomes to occur. When Batman thwarts a bank robber, he actually enables the police to arrest the bank robber. When Superman stops a falling car and saves a screaming woman, he enables that woman to continue living. Enablement is the core of what we as a society consider going above and beyond what is expected.
All one has to do is look around their organization, and they will discover that everything positive that occurs in the company happened because of an enabler. From the big report that was approved in the nick of time, to the assembler that stayed late in order to finish products for a big meeting, enablers go out of their way to ensure that life moves forward. Inventors are enablers in the way that they figure out not how to make innovative devices, but how to make those devices a reality in terms of mechanics, materials, and processes.
In a recent NPR report, the concept of the "sharing economy" was discussed. This emerging paradigm leverages the notion of social networking in a face to face, side by side approach to new tech entrepreneurship. Small typically technology-based startups share office space, and allow cross-pollination of ideas to help develop new businesses. As you think about this novel concept, you begin to realize that even in this grass-roots model, the sharing of information and experience spurs and even motivates enablers to do what they do best; they power the evolution of the next big solution or idea, even if it's for a different company or concept.
Startups and successful companies leverage enablers, because they enable companies to see their products become a reality with little or no red tape. Whether it's solving a design issue, designing a machine to enable a process to work, or finding an alternative to a patent, the enabler in a company is the unsung, quiet hero who innovates his way around obstacles that would typically stop mortal men.
Whether your ability is super-human strength, x-ray vision, telepathic communication with sea creatures or being able to design and build duct tape prototypes for an investor presentation in a moments notice, you use those abilities to enable a solution.
Enablers in today's business are the unsung superheroes. Consider this when understanding the strengths in your organization, and who helps maintain the momentum. And like any superhero, be sure to thank them, and give them a pat on the back - they deserve it...