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10 Innovation Killers!

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time.” Albert Einstein

Are you in an innovation rut?
Find out! Print the list below, and take it into your next meeting. Score one point each time a phrase is used, plus bonus points as indicated. Score more than 5, and you’ve got an organization that is innovation-adverse. Score 10 or more, and you are innovation dead. 15 or more, and you might as well close up shop – or immediately book Jim for guidance!

  • “We’ve always done it this way” (3 bonus points):
  • “It won’t work”
  • “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard”
  • “That’s not my problem”
  • “You can’t do that”
  • “I don’t know how”
  • “I don’t think I can”
  • I didn’t know that”
  • “The boss won’t go for it” (5 bonus points)
  • “Why should I care?” (10 bonus points)

10 Signs that you’ve got an innovation dysfunction

  • 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 about, 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?”

How do innovative organizations differ?

Innovative companies act differently. In these organizations

  • Ideas flow freely throughout the organization
  • subversion is a virtue
  • success and failure are championed
  • there are many, many leaders who encourage innovative thinking, rather than managers who run a bureacracy
  • there are creative champions throughout the organization — people who thrive on thinking about how to do things differently
  • ideas get approval and endorsement
  • rather than stating “it can’t be done,” people ask, “how could we do this?”
  • people know that in addition to R&D, innovation is also about ideas about to “run the business better, grow the business and transform the business”
  • the word “innovation” is found in most job descriptions as a primary area of responsibility, and a percentage of annual renumeration is based upon achievement of explicitly defined innovation goals

The fact is, every organization should be able to develop innovation as a core virtue — if they aren’t, they certainly won’t survive the rapid rate of change that envelopes us today.

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