Friends & Foes of Innovation


Paul Sloane has a way of communicating. He tells you what many others may tell you in a way that you would listen, understand and hopefully implement. In his simple article Innovation’s Three Good Friends and Three Deadly Enemies, he simply gives you three things that you need to imbibe in your organization to nurture and nourish innovation and three things that you need to keep in check to let innovation flourish.

Picking up from Paul, here is my list.

3 Best Friends of Innovation

  1. Leadership commitment: Unless leadership shows its commitment to innovation, it is least likely to happen. Most organizations are busy implementing the vision of the one sitting on top and if innovation or for that matter any other program is not in the list up there, the chances of it happening are very bleak. Once it is there it is important for the leader to keep sharing his thoughts his goals to the teams so that they are aware of his continued commitment
  2. Enabling People to Think Creatively: Most large organizations are built over standardization programs where people are told about SOPs and are often punished for deviations. When you ask them to think creatively, you are asking them to go against the grain, so are you enabling them, training them to think creatively or not
  3. Constructively Engaging people: Most companies ask for ideas and then do not do anything about, it becomes another item on their to-do list. Ask ideas only if you can respond to them, act on them and create something for the business out of it. No one likes to give ideas and not have any response to it

3 Worst Foes of Innovation

  1. What is Innovation: Not having a common understanding of what innovation means to your business? Everyone has their own version and it becomes like elephant and the 7 blind men trying to solve the puzzle.
  2. Flexibility: Not having flexibility built into the system to allow people to work on new ideas and to allow potential failures.
  3. Middle Management Trap: Top management commits to innovation, younger people get excited and come up with new ideas but both end up being trapped in middle management trap – a layer that is too focussed on delivering the operational results. Each organization needs to attend to this – as operations are no less important and must not suffer while the innovation needs to be included in the agenda of middle management.

Would love to hear your views on this.

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