Could you be stifling innovation instead of encouraging it?

Change is a pre-requisite for survival – whether as an individual or as part of an  organization.  

How are you going to get the people in your team to think and act innovatively so that you can change and improve the services or products you offer to keep up with demand and with the competition. 

The challenge is nicely laid out by Prof John Bessant in his eminently readable book “High Involvement Innovation” (see below).

When you start to look at whether your organization supports innovation or whether it actually inhibits it, a good way is to ask people to tell you their favorite “killer phrases”.  This will quickly show the ways that ideas are getting killed – and how this can work to prevent the kind of effective innovations that we perhaps thought we were encouraging.

They often take for form of “Great idea…BUT…”  BUT: now that’s how to stop an idea in its tracks. If people get used being told “no” in these ways they will soon stop even trying to propose new ideas.

Here are some “killer phrases” running inside people’s heads:

I’ve got a good idea – BUT
   No-one will listen to me
   It’s not my job to offer ideas
   Someone else must already have thought of it
   I’ll look stupid if I say anything

At the group or organization level they might look like this:

That’s a great idea – BUT
   We’ve already tried it
   We’ve never tried it
   We don’t have time / money/people/other resources
   X wouldn’t like it
   X would like it (!)
   It’s not the way we do things around here
   We did that last year and look what happened.

So start by asking yourself or your teams what are their killer phrases. Then you will begin to see what has to be done to alter the climate so that the ideas, some of which will mean the difference between success and failure, can come to the surface and be taken seriously, tested and implemented. 

If your culture has evolved to stifle innovation – then innovation you will not get.