My favorite author Paul Sloane in his article The Innovation Disconnect talks about a very usual situation in an organization that is unable to reap benefits from their innovation programs.
Top management needs and wants Innovation, and hence launches innovation programs. The foot soldiers, the people on the ground dealing with the issues, delivering products and services are brimming with ideas and they want those ideas to be taken forward. There are programs to capture these ideas and convert them into profitable business. Where is the missing link then?
The disconnect is the conformity that those who are running the program seek, the rules that they want to adhere to like they do in every other project. While they should be the link between top management’s vision / strategy and the energy at the operational level, they run it like regular projects that have well defined objectives and targets.
There is also a disconnect between what the top management says and what they practice. There is a need for them to walk the talk. Employees need to be confident of taking the path they hear you speak. Basically build a culture of trust where an employee should be confident of sharing a risky idea without feeling at risk, or teams should be able to experiment without feeling being penalized. If they do not trust what they hear from you in public forums, they will not be motivated to work on your vision. This is where the core of missing trust lies and this is where the gap in execution of innovation programs.