Escaping Groupthink

by Paul Sloane

Escaping GroupthinkHow can you break out of the group-think that affects most large organizations? How can you escape from the corporate frameworks that shape discussions and ideas?

Philips is moving from a high-volume electronics manufacturer to a design-led, lifestyle technology company. It needs help to get there so it set up a ‘simplicity board’. Philips reckoned it needed a fresh perspective from creative types with no ties to the company. So it formed the simplicity board, a group of external specialists in health care, fashion, design, and architecture. “Philips was too inward-looking,” says Andrea Ragnetti, Chief Marketing Officer. “To really embed simplicity into the company’s DNA, we needed an element of vision.”

For Philips, the promise of simplicity isn’t just about making products that are easier to use. The bigger challenge is rewiring the entire organization. The board’s primary contribution, says fashion designer and board member, Sarah Berman, is “using creative chaos to affect lasting change.”

Lou Gerstner was an outsider who was brought in to IBM as CEO to turn it around when the giant corporation faced seemingly impossible problems. He was able to change the embedded IBM culture because he could clearly see its strengths and weaknesses. Most of the loyal employees were so used to the way that things were done in IBM that it was hard for them to envision the fundamental changes that were needed.

Often we are so close to our own methods and products that it is difficult for us to see clearly. An outsider can bring a simpler, fresher view. How can you harness the creative input of outsiders to improve your innovation?

Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing

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Paul SloanePaul Sloane writes, speaks and leads workshops on creativity, innovation and leadership. He is the author of The Innovative Leader published by Kogan-Page.

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  1. Some companies also leverage external communities to get this “fresh perspective from creative types” that you’re talking about. I recently covered one of these examples here: https://en.eyeka.net/2011/03/ag2r-la-mondiale-gets-creative-feedback-from-beyond-its-own-four-walls/

    Would be interesting to know what people think about appealing to experts (i.e. Philips) as opposed to creative consumers (i.e. AG2R-La Mondiale)… any opinions ?

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