Ask John Sculley, the man who fired Steve Jobs — would he do it again? Probably. As Michael Corleone once said about a fellow mobster taking sides against him just as he took power — “it’s the smart play.” MBA’s are trained to manage, and that usually doesn’t mean disrupt. Let’s be frank, people who think different (high innovators on the KAI scale, a measure of cognitive style) are a pain in the ass. Even those who are very self-aware and have trained themselves in social graces eventually show their true colours in classic corporate settings. They can’t help it. They are less problem solvers than they are problem finders. Many of you know that I recently posted a pieceRead More..
One of the most frustrating things about being an Innovation consultant is watching organizations get stuck in a mud pit of inaction around innovation. Call it procrastination, lack of corporate will, a culture of bureaucracy — they all amount to the same thing: no productive innovation work done. I see it over and over, it’s as common as a head cold and just as unpleasant.
I’ve written about this before — today’s post has a bit of a new wrinkle. Here’s the message: Have a party and get started. I mean it literally. Make innovation an ongoing company party.
The common suggestions around how to circumvent this…innovation infarction…are many. They include:
- Getting top management to sign up for a program
- Buying an Idea Management System
- Setting up a committee or working group to study innovation best practice
- Setting up a committee to articulate a precise process
- Hiring McKinsey or some other over-priced consulting company
None of the above will work in the long run.
Getting top management to sign up for a program is a start, but that program will not succeed without support, resources, and talent.
An Idea Management System is a great building block, but without great focusing questions, a lot of the idea generation will be a complete waste of time. I’d add that unless initiatives are actively facilitated and ideas acted upon, again, a waste of time and money.
Committees or teams that “study” innovation are, mostly, naval gazing. Yes, process is important, but frankly, it’s not rocket science. Best practices are well articulated in various books, so, buy one and decide, quickly, what might work for your organization. As for process, same thing, those studies have already been done why would you do it all over again? Your organization is not unique — everybody thinks that — and almost nobody really is unique.
Hiring McKinsey does not guarantee success, but you might knock down one good effort with a lot of expensive help. Then what? Do you hire them again for next year’s innovation? They would love that of course, but the point it you haven’t grown any innovation capacity of your own with them doing it for you.
No, silver bullets do not cure Innovation Infarction. At best they stop the bleeding, worst case, they kill the patient.
So, get off the dime and kick off your innovation efforts with a party. Management sponsors the event. It’s an Open invitation. No PowerPoint slides. Just fun and dialogue and food and drink and dancing. Then, much like a revival meeting, people get up and declare what they’re going to innovate and by when. Could be an individual, could be a team. Somebody takes notes.
The next day, those people who declare take two aspirin and get to work. They’ll figure out process along the way. About every 3 months you have another party. You hear reports, you clap for the good stuff, you clap for the bad stuff, you chat and drink and dance and sing and figure out how to adjust.
Tell me why this wouldn’t work. I know just the team to help, should you need help, call KILN.
Get the innovation party started, quit fooling around.