Be more curious

Here’s why innovation isn’t working in your organisation.

What could it be like if innovation really was part of your organisation’s DNA? Large doesn’t always provide success in today’s disruptive world. The ability to innovate is the golden ticket in town.

Big companies used to have a lifespan of 61 years, now it’s down to 18.

MCKINSEY CONSULTING

If you were truly innovative, would you be more or less susceptible to risk?

Yet, innovation is a scary concept for many organisations.

Why?

Most organisations like order and control. Their systems are set up to mitigate risk not to encourage creativity. It means releasing control. It means creating a truly diverse organisation, one that not only talks about inclusion but one that lives and breathes it in its culture, every action, every day. You never quite know where that breakthrough idea might pop out from. This is risky.  Instead, some opt to have an Innovation Lab or similar set up outside the confines of business as usual. This is manageable. This is safer.

They often have the ‘we’re too big to fail’ mentality which provides a false sense of security in today’s world governed by disruption. As a result, these companies create complexities that often render the organisation immobile. Arrogance is the silent killer. This is true risk; not the unleashing of the immense talent that is hiding in plain sight within the confines of their structure.

“Innovation must be disruptive. And by disruptive, I mean disruptive. You gotta fracture and break the rules and disrupt.”

HOWARD SHULTZ, EX CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF STARBUCKS

How do you feel about this?

Radical eh? Maybe its not to your taste, yet!

OK. Let’s scale it back.

Let’s not talk disruption.

I don’t want to set your pulse racing, your heart palpitating and your palms sweating. Let’s talk continuous improvement. There, that’s better, isn’t it? After all, we all want people to seek out ways to streamline, improve, reduce and excel, don’t we? We NEED people to do these things. This demands more than ‘you get paid to do a job’ and no amount of fringe benefits will spur your people to do this, if the fundamentals aren’t in place.

Take a look at what EveryDay Genius is and why it’s important.

Time to take off the blinkers

You might be lucky. You might love your job and have a great boss, but is that the case around the entire organisation? Take a good, hard, forensic analysis of your organisation.

How well do you (really) do continuous improvement in your organisation?

Are ideas free flowing and welcome or do you still need to incentivise this?

Let’s look at the stats.

I don’t share the following to put a downer on things. I share it to challenge you to WANT to be better and to consider what small, first steps you can make to challenge the status quo.

You might look at what comes next and think “that’s not us, we’re ok” and I really hope you are. But that shouldn’t stop you from challenging yourself and your organisation to become even more resourceful. Continuous improvement can start with one person (you) being really honest about the stakes and knowing that your input matters. Let’s be clear, many of today’s workplaces are broken. Or if not broken, fractured. The stats speak for themselves. (The Global Engagement Study)

  • 85% of employees disengaged,
  • 23% feel burned out and
  • 37% believe that their job makes no useful contribution to society.

Alongside this, people are starting to want to work differently.

  • The gig economy had doubled in the last three years and
  • According to McKinsey one in six conventional workers say they’d like to move to self-employed if given the chance.

More skilled people are becoming contractors, preferring to take control of their lives and careers.

Change the Paradigm

Unless organisation’s change the paradigm of their relationship with their staff, then they are brewing trouble. Staff need to feel vested in the success of the organisation, they need to be partners.

So, what do you do about this?

Start by taking off the blinkers and really consider why there is this trend.

People are less satisfied with their work-life balance and unless you address this you cannot hope to secure the discretionary effort you need for continuous improvement or the truly disruptive innovation that will secure your ticket to stay in the game.

What’s the impact of culture on innovation?

There are a number of key inhibitors that we see in many organisations that can be addressed very simply. Maybe people feel they need permission. Some might feel a bit scared. Others might simply not know how to do it. Many organisations that have tried more agile approaches simply assumed collaboration was a core competency. It isn’t.

Collaboration needs to be learnt.

People need safety to perform in this way with a shared language and shared process that instinctively makes people feel safe with boundaries and permission that provide the necessary security. They need to feel their voice matters which demands that their manager/facilitator/coach (whatever you want to call them) has skills to draw out the best from not only the more vocal but also those who are often unheard. The organisational culture needs to support this, it cannot just be an initiative you put in place and hope for the best.

The Innovation Triad

The Innovation Triad

To get innovation started you need these three elements working together. Without them you will never gain the traction or trust.

We will look at this in more depth in our next blog.

In the meantime take a look at our toolbox page for an Innovation Cheat Sheet, how to get ideas flowing and how to tap into the true potential of your team.