Innovation Isn’t Tied to Size, but to Operating Rules or People

In her HBR post Innovation Isn’t Tied to Size, but to Operating Rules  Nilofer Merchant talks about how both big and small organizations are capable of Innovation and it is a widely accepted myth that large organizations are bureaucratic and small ones are creative. She takes the example of HP and IBM and places the success of Innovation on Operating Rules rather than the size of the organization.

My question to the author is – is it operating rules which are deduced in retrospect or is it the people who are driving the organization on whom the innovation in an organization depends. I have always believed if the leadership has a string belief and a clear vision for Innovation and the message is sent across clearly across the ranks, Innovation happens irrespective of the size of the company, any rules existing or not and people willing or not. People still work for people and the biggest boss is who everyone works for. If people know that boss is serious about innovation, they will go and learn every trick and tip required, get help from wherever it is available and make things happen.

Yes, people will form some operating rules and refine them over a period of time to make innovation happen. But, will the presence of rules make people do innovation – I have serious doubts.

I agree that Innovation can happen in both big and small organizations, though the needs and the way it will happen will differ depending upon the size. In both cases, though you need the top leader to be serious about innovation and the rest will follow and it is also demonstrated in the examples Nilofer sites.

Anuradha Goyal