Why Does Your Organisation Attack Innovation?

INNOVATION IMMUNITY

As organisations grow larger, they often become inoculated to innovative ideas. Innovation becomes treated like a disease; higher-ups attach themselves to disruptive initiatives in order to control and stifle them rather than foster their growth and realise their full potential. Objectively this seems insane, but when we drill down to the cultural dynamics and personal motivations behind these behaviours it becomes apparent why they’re so common.

Any innovation has the potential to be a competitive threat to existing products or services, which are seen to be directly linked to the livelihood of the employees responsible for them. The practice of tying executive incentives to relatively short-term goals is another particularly strong inhibitor to fostering innovation; it becomes rational to aim for marginal improvements rather than radical disruption that may not pay off within the next few quarters (if at all). Manager’s default to making safe, incremental improvements to existing offerings and the organisation gets slowly trapped in the ‘innovation death spiral’.

EMBRACE INNOVATION — IT WORKS

Long term commitments to innovation are the only way to bring about radical, meaningful change. Google actively embraces and encourages innovation and as a result they tend to dictate disruption and attract the best and brightest employees. Their dominance is due to the fact that their executives would rather run a company that’s moving too quickly than being too cautious; they figure that without making mistakes they’re not taking enough risk.

WHO WIELDS THE POWER?

The CEO needs to be the prime agent of innovation in order to foster an effective top-down paradigm shift throughout an organisation. They must align incentive structures with long-term organisational innovation to empower employees to be progressive and forward thinking.

An organisation needs to disrupt itself if it wants to avoid being disrupted. Innovation must be encouraged and celebrated, not attacked.