Please – Stop Talking about innovation. Organisations devote an enormous amount of energy talking about the importance of innovation. But here’s the truth: most companies can’t innovate because everyone’s job is to maintain the status quo. You and everyone else in your organisation are snowed under making sure you’re doing what your job description says you should be doing. Even if “innovation” is included as a KPI, few companies have an effective innovation process in place. This is because companies are set up to focus on the business they do – and to make a profit. Everyone’s role is defined and structured to create the best environment for doing that one thing as efficiently as possible. Success means doing the same thing you’ve always done, maybe just a little better each time. Change is discouraged – it’s disruptive and each failure is held on. In today’s dynamic environment, your entire industry can change in the time it takes to say “we’re innovative” and as Peter Drucker said, “The enterprise that does not innovate inevitably ages and declines. And in a period of rapid change such as the present … the decline will be fast.” It’s never been more imperative to stop talking about innovation and actually start doing it. Innovation is not actually that difficult. One of the main reasons organisations fail to innovate consistently is that it involves creativity and many managers associate creativity with chaos. Managers like to manage instead of lead and creativity simply refuses to be controlled. The good news is that you can manage for creativity. Here’s how: Set the right goals. Any team should be tasked with tackling a specific challenge. Give people the freedom to create. Bureaucracy, office politics, and the requirement to keep the ship “steady as she goes’ all inhibit innovation. Designate a senior person as an innovation champion. Decision by committee is the fastest road to failure.
Diversity is a good thing. Nothing kills ideation as quickly as a bunch of people who all think the same. Allow time. Some great ideas come in a serendipitous moment – most don’t. It takes time to generate, evaluate, test and improve upon ideas. Accept some failures. Traditionally, companies are risk averse, so if an employee fears failure, they won’t try anything different. But by its very nature, innovation means trying things that have not been done before, consequently there will always be an element of risk. Reward innovation. Performance evaluations should include an assessment of the number and quality of new ideas individuals put forward (even if the ideas were not implemented). Training. An organisation that encourages and facilitates learning inspires people to greater things. Contrary to popular belief, creative thinking is a skill that can be learned Remember, innovation is not a requirement for organisations, but then again, neither is survival. Tim Malone of Innoventure (Pty) Ltd in association with Des Squire of AMSI and Associates cc will be conducting a morning workshop on “Innovation and Diversity” – please send your initial expression of interest (without obligation) to either Tim: firstname.lastname@example.org or Des: des.amsiandassociates.co.za. For further information, contact Tim on 082 553 4478 or Des on …….