“If everyone on your team is laughing at every new idea, you’ve got a bigger problem than you think!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Laughter is the best medicine – until it becomes an ingrained, destructive force that kills new ideas. And that’s the risk you run if you let a culture of continual skepticism y sink into your organization.
You know that you are failing. Ideas are being lost, opportunities are being squandered, and initiative is in a rut. How do you know? Because you KNOW that your organization has a culture that is killing creativity. When everyone laughs at any new idea, that’s one of the symptoms of what’s gone wrong!
I’m always mystified to find that some organizations just seem to do everything they can to shut down new ideas. In these organizations:
- People laugh at new ideas.
- Someone who identifies a problem is shunned.
- Innovation is the privileged practice of a special group.
- The phrase, “You can’t do that because we’ve always done it this way” is used for every new idea.
- No one can remember the last time anyone did anything really cool.
- People think innovation is about R&D.
- People have convinced themselves that competing on price is normal.
- The organization is focused more on process than success.
- There are lots of Baby Boomers around, and few people younger than 25.
- After any type of surprise — product, market, industry, or organizational change — everyone sits back and asks, “Wow, where did that come from?”
What happens in these companies? They:
- Form a Committee. An absolute surefire way of shutting down ideas! The herd mentality takes over, and activity sclerosis soon sets in.
- Defer Decisions. It’s easier to wait than to make any bold, aggressive moves. Uncertainty is a virtue; indecision is an asset.
- Hide Failure. If anyone tries something new and doesn’t succeed, make sure that no one else sees it. You don’t want to set a message that it is important to take risks.
- Let Innovators Work in Secret. You want to make sure that the concept of innovation remains some deep, mysterious process that not everyone can participate in. That will help to ensure that most of your team doesn’t pursue any type of fresh new thinking. They’ll just keep doing what they’ve always done.
- Banish Fear. Make sure that everyone thinks that everything is going to be all right. You don’t have to deal with potential business market disruption, new competitors, significant industry transformation, or the impact of globalization. Everything will look the same 10 years from now, so just keep everyone focused on doing the same old thing!
- Accept the Status Quo. Things are running perfectly, you’ve got the perfect product mix, and all of your customers are thrilled with your brand and the levels of customer service. There’s no need to do anything new since it’s all going to work out just fine!
- Be Cautious. Don’t make any bold, aggressive moves. Just take things slowly, one step at a time. If you move too fast, things are likely to go wrong. Let complacency settle in like a warm blanket.
- Glorify Process. Make sure that everything is filled out in triplicate; be sure the process slows down any radical ideas. It’s more important to do things perfectly than to make mistakes.
- Be Narrow. Keep a very tiny view of the future. You can’t succeed with any big wins, because there aren’t going to be any dramatic surprises in the future. Think small. Act accordingly.
- Study Things to Death. Don’t let any uncertainty creep into your decision-making process. Make sure that if you are to do anything, that you’ve spent sufficient time and effort to understand all the variables. Your goal is to ensure that any decision is free of risk, unlikely to fail, and in retrospect will be carefully and fully documented.
And there are certainly more attitudes that help destroy innovative thinking.
Which ones are you guilty of?