People who Kill Innovation

I have a firm belief that to stay relevant and be successful in this ever-changing, ultra-competitive, whacky world, we actually need to upgrade the way we think on a permanent basis. To think the same as we always have is to fall behind. The things that used to make us successful no longer work, your old thinking is now taken for granted, and our problem-solving abilities are now commoditized or digitized.

In a recent post, I discussed how organizations fail to innovate, and it very often starts with the (bad) people in place, starting from the top of the org chart.

In a December 18 article, Stefan Lindegaard defines 5 types of people who kill innovation.

Here is my list (non-exhaustive) of people of kill innovation.

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. HOLD ON… THEY REALLY EXIST!!

1. Executives who sell innovation to their employees like a car sales person sells a Humvee to a potential buyer trying to convince him it offers the best gas mileage. If a leader is not genuine in his intention to create a true culture of innovation, employees won’t buy into it. They are not stupid.

2. Incompetent “innovation” directors who kill their employees’ creativity and will to innovate because their ideas don’t fit in the “mold”. Hmm… it reminds me of my French literature teacher who used to give me bad grades because I had a different interpretation of a book from hers. Such directors are supposed to encourage innovation within their team, not to teach their team how to think like them. Fu#k it up! (read: funk it up).

3. Executives who want to hire employees with “an entrepreneurial spirit”, but don’t let those same employees experiment business ventures and innovation inside or outside of the company. How are such employees supposed to boost their entrepreneurial spirit if their attempts are shut down?

4. Managers who steal ideas from their team to make those ideas their “own”, transforming concepts to fit their “narrow” views, thus disengaging the very ones who came up with innovative ideas.

5. Formal or informal “leaders” who are put in place because of their “special” connections to the exec team (yeah, many companies still encourage boot lickers), discouraging the willing employees to come forward with ideas.

6. The “narrow-minded” people who only focus on what they can benefit from participating and miss the big picture.

7. Execs who are so afraid of open innovation and bringing outside thinkers that they still live in the stone age when Neanderthals protected fire from their enemies, fearing they would lose the “fire” (to innovate) they have in them.

8. YOU, if you are soooo comfortable in your sleepers that you refuse to grab the remote control and switch the channel to challenge the status quo. If you are afraid to fail, you will never move forward. You must upgrade your thinking. A quote of my kids’ favorite movie (Ratatouille): Gusteau “If you focus on what you left behind you will never see what lies ahead!”.

Conclusion: Steve Jobs’ quote “the crazy ones”
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

Share your experiences. Who do you see as innovation killers?

image credit: marc frank montoya

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Stephan Vincent is Director of Cultural Transformation at Collidea, a strategic innovation firm in Carmel, IN. He is also Founder and President of s.p.IN and Collide Summit Indiana, a first-of-its- kind un-conference unlike anything else. Stephan is a new contributor to IX, sharing insights from his own blog.

This entry was posted in Culture & Values, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Leadership, Management, People & Skills, Strategy, culture and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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