Leading a Big, Slow Organization? 1 Key Question Jump-Start Innovation.

Innovation is a necessity. Old ways are dying. As technology accelerates and consumer’s expectations rise, any organization stuck in the present faces obsolescence. Innovation, embracing new ideas and rethinking one’s business model, is therefore vital to your future existence.

But why do so many big organizations resist innovation? Everyone agrees it is a good thing. After all, there are few real ostriches in the boardroom. Part of the reason stems from complacency borne of past successes. We have been successful. We built a “great” organization by doing this, and only this. “This” is how we have always done it. We dominate the market, sector or are the sole provider of this service. Why change?

There is no doubt that an institution’s scale can amplify management’s sense of stability and confidence. With its big offices, byzantine org. charts and stable revenues can narrow management’s views and reinforce the belief that “we are too big to fail”. Think Blackberry or Lehman Brothers. Often this misplaced overconfidence can be codified through organizational culture. Strong anti-bodies against change multiply. Disruption and embracing divergent thinking becomes toxic. Even heretical. As conformity and risk aversion grow, the cadence and ability to adapt grind to a halt.

So how can you, as an innovative leader, reset pace of ideas and creativity in your team? A key question help jump start your team, even if they have succumb to the cultural inertia.

If we were broke, how would we still achieve our goals?

It is a simple question. If we had no money how would we do what we currently do? Do not expect a positive reaction. Most teams will shrug it off.

“Unrealistic,” “waste of time” or even “silly” they might say. But the question is deadly serious.

Any big company that wants to remain current must find ways to evolve and not be locked in by precedence. You have to find a creative way to make things happen. In big organizations, stability, resources and a track record can all get in the way of the opportunity to evolve, find new and better ways to meet market needs.

Imagine your company as a start-up. From “zero to one”, how would you turn new ideas into a viable business? The emergence of technology, new market needs and customer preferences likely means that the world around you has changed.

By asking, if we had no resources how would we mobilize our capabilities and those of our partners to generate value and serve our clients? You can unlock ideas beyond the current mold. The aim here is not press “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” on everything you do. The goals is to uncover underlying assumptions and redundant beliefs that are holding you back.

Starting at zero, helps your team open the aperture of their assumptions, constraints and comparisons. Why do we believe that assumption, belief or practice still to be true? As the leader following those breadcrumbs, and how to adapt it for your organization, can be the seeds of your next breakthrough innovation.

About the Author

Simon Trevarthen is Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer of Elevate Your Greatness (EYG). EYG helps individuals, teams and organizations unpack the secrets of success by becoming even better versions of themselves through dynamic keynotes, seminars and workshops on innovation, inspiration and presentation excellence.

To learn more about Elevate Your Greatness see www.elevateyourgreatness.com

Follow EYG on twitter: @Simon Trevarthen

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