Just reading an article in Forbes by Edward D. Hess on Innovation. Innovation is essentially chaos. Where many firms descend into the abyss of slowly moving mediocrity over fears of change, innovators curiously see opportunity in the entrenchment of others. In order to innovate effectively, we know from experience of Nokia, Microsoft over the years, RIMM and Motorola not all innovations are equal. One must be diverse in thinking as well as people. Where all think alike all innovate alike. Please share.
Innovation has become a linchpin for inept leaders and mundane organizations to masquerade behind action for effectiveness. They create innovation meetings, conferences with the same old faces with the same old thinking. Afraid to do the one thing that makes innovation roll, Innovate management and HR. In my experience all innovation programs fall short due to the bureaucratic malaise created by protective silos. These silos are developed by fear. A lack of engagement from frontline workers to those who should know better, management. Managers and leaders are afraid to speak honestly what must be said. Think I’m wrong? Look around your organization. Writes Hess:
“Most organizational environments won’t help us overcome our fear of failure and build our innovative thinking skills. That’s because most organizations exist to produce predictable, reliable, standardized results. In those environments, mistakes and failures are bad. That is a problem. To innovate, you must simultaneously tolerate mistakes and insist on operational excellence. Many businesses struggle with implementing that dual mentality.
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Here we can learn from exemplar companies like IDEO, Pixar, Intuit, W.L. Gore & Associates, and Bridgewater Associates. In those organizations, mistakes and failures are redefined as “learning opportunities.” IDEO takes it even further, characterizing failure as good because it helps people develop the humility that is necessary for empathy—a critical skill in user-centric innovation.
But in many workplaces, people do not “feel safe enough to dare.” They don’t necessarily feel that they can speak with candor up and down the organization. Can you tell your boss the truth? Innovation occurs best in an “idea meritocracy,” a culture where the best evidence-based ideas win. There can’t be two sets of rules—everyone’s ideas must be subject to the same rigorous scrutiny. As Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the largest hedge funds in the world, so bluntly said, “We all are dumb shits.” That’s why everyone at his company is engaged in a radically transparent “search for truth,” which involves candid feedback and a deliberate effort to “get above yourself,” to get past the emotional defenses that inhibit our thinking.”
Read full article via Why Is Innovation So Hard?.
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Jim is president of InnoThink Group and Leadership Matters. He is a leader in workplace learning, productivity, performance, and leadership training solutions. For over 25 years, we have helped companies improve their performance, productivity, and bottom-line results.
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