“Focus on the idea, not the process!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Great ideas often go into ill-conceived committees to die!
That’s certainly been my observation through experience – I’ve seen far too many innovation initiatives fail because the leadership team gets too caught up creatIng a structure to undertake the process of innovation, rather than the actual innovation itself. The result is that most good ideas from within the entire team never have the opportunity to emerge – creativity is stifled through the process of attempting to achieve creativity!
I identified this years ago in a blog post, “10 Surefire Ways to Kill Creativity, Innovation & Strategy”
When the process of innovation takes over – it has the effect of making innovation special! Organizations kill innovation when they do this:
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.
Here’s what happens – when innovation is defined as a critical strategy, an “Innovation Team” is formed, tasked with the responsibility of coming up with a creative plan, establishing an idea factory, creating an innovation pipeline. Announcements are made to the rest of the organization that the “Innovation Team” is in place! To great effect and loud pronouncements, the Team begins their work behind closed doors; they meet regularly and go deep into their locked rooms to study the issue of innovation. Everyone awaits the grand pronouncements from their great work.
And … nothing happens.
Immediately, everyone else, excluded from the team, comes to the conclusion that they are not responsible for innovative thinking – that’s the work of the Innovation Team! But the fact is, this is a model of mediocrity, a prescription for the stifling of creative thought, an abandonment of opportunity. By focusing on the process of innovation rather than innovation itself, an organization guarantees itself a path of innovation failure.
What do successful innovators do? They create a culture in which EVERYONE is responsible for innovative thinking – regardless of their department, responsibility, or role. They do this by framing innovation in the context of assigning three key innovation goals to everyone – how can I help, in my area of responsibility to run the business better, grow the business, or transform the business?
In this way, a real culture of creativity is established that can drive forward new levels of disruptive thinking.
Ideas matter. Process kills.