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How to kill innovation, in five easy steps

Innovation is the life blood of most organizations in the 21st century, but most of them regularly do things to snuff out innovation wherever it rears its head. Here are five of the main culprits.

We live in an era of innovation. If you're standing still, you're going backward.

This is especially true in the technology industry, but it's also true to varying degrees in most other industries since new technologies and new discoveries are pushing civilization forward at a rip-roaring pace. At some point, the pace will settle down a bit and there will be time to consolidate and wring out efficiencies, but it's not happening anytime soon.

If you're in an industry or an organization that needs innovation to survive and thrive, then you'll only succeed by letting go of control-freak tendencies and operating according to a different set of principles that will unleash people to think creatively and act independently.

Unfortunately, it's easier to mess it up than to get it right, and the result is that employees end up confused, frustrated, and stifled. Here are five things that a lot of leaders and companies do to stifle innovation. Keep in mind that a lot of these things are done for good reasons -- organization, systemization, and efficiency. Nevertheless, the effect is the same.

1. Don't give ownership of projects

It's no secret that a lot of companies are not organized to succeed. They are organized to maintain the status quo or to consolidate power for the people who set up the organization -- and if the people in charge are nincompoops, then nothing gets done. In these types of organizations, projects are often handled by a committee rather than establishing a project leader. Different people or teams have to generally all agree on the same course of action for the project, and then each has to do their part to carry it out. That sounds wonderful and egalitarian and all, but it usually breaks down because smart people are naturally going to have different ideas for how to do things, and if everyone isn't pushing in the same direction, then projects stagnate and falter. The better thing to do is to put a single person in charge of a project (companies like Apple call this the "directly responsible individual" or DRI) and designate a set of team members to be part of the project and give them clear goals and objectives for their piece of it.

2. Create too many layers of management

There's a tough balance to maintain between too much management and not enough. On one hand, lots of studies have shown that the job satisfaction of most employees is closely tied to their relationship with their manager, so you need to have enough managers for people to get plenty of 1-on-1 attention and direction. On the other hand, if you have a ton of middle managers running around, then employees feel too far removed from the organization's true leaders, which hurts morale, slows down communication, and adds too much overhead to simple processes. If you want to create a culture of innovation, then you have to find ways to flatten your organization and create less hierarchy, while making sure every employee still gets a little bit of time with the boss on a regular basis in order to stay energized and on target.

3. Ignore brainstorming rules

The basic rules of brainstorming have been around since Alex Osborne coined the phrase in 1939, as part of his method for creative problem solving. However, it's amazing how many organizations attempt to engage in brainstorming without following the rules and end up killing some of the best ideas because of it. Osborne once said, "It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one." In that spirit, true brainstorming should be always be a negativity-free process that encourages people to throw out their wildest ideas without fear of them being quickly shot down or ridiculed. Some of the craziest ideas could morph into something amazingly useful. You can find lots of variations of the brainstorming rules on the web, but my favorite are the ones that the Walt Disney World "imagineers" use:

Rule 1 - There is no such thing as a bad idea. We never know how one idea (however far-fetched) might lead into another one that is exactly right. Rule 2 - We don't talk yet about why not. There will be plenty of time for realities later, so we don't want them to get in the way of the good ideas now. Rule 3 - Nothing should stifle the flow of ideas. Not buts or can'ts or other "stopping" words. We want to hear words such as "and," "or," and "what if?" Rule 4 -  There is no such thing as a bad idea. (We take that one very seriously.)

4. Rely too heavily on data and dashboards

The ability to track the performance of all kinds of things -- from sales to inventory to assets to processes -- has revolutionized business since the rise of the computer. It has enabled workers to make faster and better decisions, and it has driven major productivity gains and made business processes far more efficient. However, it's also easy to use data as a crutch and to go too far with the business dashboards that we use to monitor the latest reports. If you're paralyzed to the point of not being able to make decisions because you can't get enough data or the data is inconclusive, then it's a problem. Beyond some of the basic data, such as sales and customer traffic, a lot of the data requires sophisticated analysis (because it's so ambiguous) and many of the truths it contains are relative -- or worse, they hide other truths. The best leaders still trust their gut, no matter how much data they get, and know how to balance the objective numbers with a certain amount of emotional intelligence, especially when it comes time to make the tough decisions.

5. Under-resource your hidden opportunities

I'm never a believer in unlimited budgets -- even for huge opportunities or things that absolutely must be done. Having too many resources makes people sloppy. When you have to get something done with fewer resources than you think you need, it often sharpens your wits, forces you to hustle, and leads you to break through barriers. However, there are also times when a lack of resources can simply strangle a promising project or product. This is where good leaders earn their pay. They don't just keep throwing the same amount of resources at the same stuff out of habit. They look at the whole portfolio and regularly realign resources in order to chase new opportunities -- even ones that may seem to be obscure long-shots -- and see if there are parts of the organization that can outperform the status quo, if given a shot.

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About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

88 comments
PFCNPFCN
PFCNPFCN

ICONOCLASM

Updated embedded link address from PFCNPFCN May 24, 2011

This is the title of a paper that I recently submitted to PRO-VE in Brazil. The key word here is ICONOCLASTIC as you may discover if you read Dr. Gregory Berns' book ICONOCLAST. My interpretation is explained in a two-minute video at

http://www.w-w-w-w.org/videos/wwww_IconoclasticViewOfEnterpriseMobility.mp4

explains how 'brain chemistry' kills innovation ....unless you happen to read the book as I did SIX TIMES more than two years ago. The Iconoclast has: 1. Glass half-full (not half empty) perception 2. Absence of fear of failure and ridicule. 3. Social intelligence to steer ideas most think are crazy to fulfillment (that's the hard one!)

Regards from Sweden August 2013

Brian

Alias Sir George the Dragon Slayer

Knighted in Canadian Dragons' Den 2009

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mikehussy36

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reachtejasvi
reachtejasvi

Good read and nice catch on sub headings, @ReachTejasvi

DerikGW
DerikGW

I work for the ... well I shouldn't say. And I have experienced a hostility toward innovation when it comes to our internal tooling (tooling that we use to track our development life cycle stats, update internal information used in our software products, etc.). Much of this innovation is geared toward getting us off of MS Access (specifically MS Access apps connected to a jet database file on a file server 1000 miles away) and on to something more efficient, easier to maintain, and more secure. I am amazed at the ignorance of available technology that comes from the top and an almost hostile attitude toward software engineers who DO know the technology, best practices, and best solutions. I am getting pretty sick of it and it is crippling us in many ways. You want to know where a lot of your tax dollars go? Well, it's funding ignorance and costly ideas instead of listening to the people who know how to get costs under control by introducing methods that the private industry has been using for a decade.

rdgrindle
rdgrindle

Has anybody recognized how well this description fits to way politics are mostly handled? Looks like they try their best to slow down innovation and progress, too!

dunkz
dunkz

This is really good information. You have done an Lunette de soleil Ray Ban excellent job of research and writing.

mpollak
mpollak

@Martian, I agreee, but there is still worse thing: planned/programmed failure! In order to sell more products, products have planned failure built in, usually after guarantee period expires. Not only this, some companies have dispensed with servicing products also, so buyer is forced to buy new product if it fails out of guarantee period. Needless to say, that have losed the job for many computer and other tecnicianc and repairmen. There is another way to kill innovation, and that is making it into cash cow. This happen in domain of software, for instance. In late 80's , my friend has made Database program that were easy to set up for data collection, and ajso to get any ad hock record list user may need. One big company has got informations about it and asked for demonstration. They were delighted and would buy copyrights, but on one condition: Author has to disable all advanced features and if possible divide program into 10 pieces that could be bought separately. So they intended to sell program with just basic functionality and every year announce "Upgrade" with new function added and sell it as new version......... My friend was horrified at such request, those people do not know that database is integral function and if any parts are left out, it plainly cannot function. Since he explained this to prospective buiyer, they were not interested any more. It is interesting how once good and succesful products are after some time withdrawn from the market, never to be seen again. For instance I found that one shampoo turn my hair darker and gave it real new beauty, ftom plain brown to chesnut red and black. after Just one year on the market it dissapeared completely, perhaps because hair coloring products would become obsolete..... Another one was toothpaste that contained Titan salts, which fixed all my lose tooths. If paste can cure partadentosis, what would dentysts do, there would be much less work! Obviously that was more important than suffering mankind is undergoing..... Same way, vacinnation againest caries was invented, but it never came to widespread use (still, I heard that US Army is using it to save on health expenses of soldiers,,,,, So that is another way to kill innovation and invention: buy it and burry it so business would not suffer :-(( No matter how much suffering it could save to people.......

martian
martian

Our current financial system is the biggest stifling element in this. Think about it. In two words, it could be: Planned obsolescence. So nothing (in that environment) will ever be "the best built" anything because that's going against the grain where profit margins are concerned and of course, no repeat sales, so we'll continue to keep getting mediocrity disguised as "innovation". And just think how much further we could be...

chikktychq
chikktychq

the point i think, is the fact that these people/managers whoever, are preventing you from progressing.. and even if they are found to be ...they are still protected! i have been at my company 30 years now, i still love the people and the work.. but mgm't is about power.. whether your old or young if they think you make them look inadequate, then they gang up and ensure your ideas are either rebranded, or cut short. do i move on?...it's doesn't sound easy, by the comments it seems to be everywhere....but for all those unfortunate people who endeavour to make peoples lives difficult......life has it's way...!! i say, educate yourself to still enjoy your job and keep a journal of relevant events. It could be your job saver.

Raphael H Cohen
Raphael H Cohen

Those five killers are quite effective and unfortunately present in too many organizations. For those interested to find out what can be done to boost innovation, I bring to their attention my new book (free download) that contains concrete tools: "Winning Opportunities, a proven tool box for converting your projects into success without a business plan." The book can be downloaded free of charge at www.winning-opportunities.org It is based on my experience as a serial entrepreneur and professor of entrepreneurship & intrapreneurship teaching executives in large organizations the best practices to boost innovation.

Scabard
Scabard

A friend was an assistant medical researcher. She did about 90% of the work, came up with the ideas etc., but the head of the 'team' took the credit, wrote the papers and had them published, giving only passing credit to her. After repeated episode my friend realized she had no future with that person, became disillusioned and left. Of course she went on to other things, like administration, but her talent was in research and it's a shame she was treated in such a way. How often do 'leaders' steal the limelight and get all the credit, eventually ruining great progress? Far too often I imagine.

mpollak
mpollak

@Energysolution.tv Sir, thank you.... But it happen that I am economist also, so I canot agree with some of Your opinions. In regard to Patent Law, it seems that everything is slanted for Patent Lawyers to earn lot of money, and for inventor to lose all rights at slightest mistake in patent filling. So, what could poor Inventors from exualy poor countries do? Since one Patent Lawyer asked 40 thousand Euro for just filing Patent claims, which I could in no way provide, I studied Patent Law as it were published in my country, got also texts from Patents granted for similar things to other Inventors and have filled all by myself. Little I knew that for 60 pages of Patent Law there is 180 pages of "explanations" of this same Patent Law, and believe me there are many things in those explanations that were even not mentioned in Patent Law as published :-(( But neither in Law nor in "explanation" there is nothing mentioned about "frame(s)", what hey consist of or what would be considered "overstepping the Frame", so there must be another Law regulating deficiency of submissions and how they should be handled :-(( This one I did not have found yet.......... Thank You for Your offer to finance making of prototypes. You can reach me on MPOLLAK (at) GLOBALNET.HR I hope You would not mind that I am not US citizen...... Regards from Croatia, the homeland of one of gratest Inventors from 19th and 20th centurys, Engineer Nikola Tesla!

DSG7
DSG7

1. Don't Give Clear Ownership of Projects. Having an entire project run by committee, or having it ran by someone ambiguously (their name isn't specifically stated, but because they're a higher-up who throws their dummy out of the pram people just do what they say) can lead to a failed project. This is usually because the ambiguous leader has killed creativity ("well, thanks for your input but we'll do it my way regardless, and you doing *that* will have to stop because I want you to do what I say"), and those who weren't listened to feel cheated out of their good idea. However, and the reason for the change in name, is that if a project fails, the ambiguous leader can tag someone else's name onto the project and say the "scapegoat" lead it; this is usually the guy who either had better ideas, or had the idea originally before ambiguous leader ruined it. This makes the more innovative worker look worse than the ambiguous leader, meaning they are listened to less and innovation is stifled.

jamiefixit
jamiefixit

You asked for relevant experiences. Just my opinion but... I was at Palm through the 3Com acquisition and beyond. We were often referred to as a speedboat trying to pull an ocean liner. 3Com was so locked up in policy and rules and procedures that there was nowhere left for innovation to happen, it became too institutionalised and I guess made the cardinal sin of believing it's own success and leadership made it invulnerable. Believing your own bullshit is the soporific jacuzzi of your own demise. Success can be a powerful anaesthetic. We are big and much of what we have done has been successful ergo (and here is the fatal jump of logic) most of what we will do will be successful because we take success for granted. From the sidelines you can see the spectators awaiting the black swan moment where it all crumbles. Also 3Com bought us actually as part of USR and then immediately attempted to make us like them by assimilating us and changing us to fit their structure and policies as policy seemed to be more important than anything else. They did not seem able to understand that our success was because of who we were and how we did things and by breaking that, ultimately they broke the company causing us to lose the original founders and inspiration, and as replacement CEO after CEO arrived took months to settle in and understand the issues, started to try and implement some sort of strategy only to be cuffed by 3Coms board, then rapidly left as a result - what happened was major strategic decisions got put off for years until it was all too late and all of the innovation happening was shut down because everyone got scared of making a decision. Heartbreaking. Hmmm... I should write a book about it!

hill_consultoria
hill_consultoria

Motorola should read this article, they launch an Android cell, Spice XT300 in Brazil. The INNOVATION on mobile communication. But they forgot to test it. Surprise, it does not work, and they are asking customers to try to fix it buying APPs on their Market.

Spook0
Spook0

The distinction between the subjective "gut" feeling and hard data "analysis" is not always os compelling that a clear cut answer is available. In our office, we have some whizbang analysts that like to present a final, no argument needed answer. In contrast, we have some experienced deciders that when the "hard data" answer is presented, tend to run it against their "gut" answer and see if there is some disconnect. Frequently the items that cause them to hesitate and mull over the two answers before deciding leads to some more analysis because of factors that in retrospect do impinge on the problem but were not explicitly described in the original expression of the problem. The new net difference may not be that great and the project is moved along; but when the variance turns out to be substantial, one can be sure that no one would wish to be associated with the result had only one method been in play.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

Clearly the definitive is to understand the project scope definition and resources....but clearly in the IT world their are more projects than good ideas for the business.A higher degree of success is always achieved by having a mix of skills under a business sponsor.many good ideas fail because the idea is not fully tested before it gets to production,many need shaping,have the wrong people,stall,lack leadership or timely resources.

jck
jck

A lot of companies don't do one thing well: flexibility. You'll get a manager who is total gut instinct, or one who is totally driven on graphs and charts being their source for making "the totally logical and factual decision based on the data". Sometimes, you have to go with the cold hard fact over feeling...and vice versa. An organization being able to deal with things in various ways helps make it more able to succeed and move forward. But when too much hard-headed, narrow-visioned leadership is micromanaging or keeping a tight leash, it can often spell disaster.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

You all know me as the curmudgeon who protested the stranglehold that the two managers married to each other controlling 85% of the employees for seven years in Pierce County IT in defiance of the law against conflict of interest. I've retired. Actually, I was RIFfed. Best thing actually. So if you want the real rules to killing innovation, you couldn't do better than to have a such a situation in your company / agency / academia / religious organization. "Creating the Innovation Culture: Leveraging Visionaries, Dissenters and Other Useful Troublemakers in Your Organization" by Frances Horibe may at first glance seem to be a most unfortunate tome, advising, as it were -- at the worst time -- that we should look to Enron for innovation. I can't think of a more devastating recommendation for a management book. What is overlooked is that she actually has excellent ideas which should be pursued. The point is that business / government / academia / religions business actually need what they perceive as "Troublemakers" for, without them, EVERYTHING IS JUST FINE, DON'T LOOK BEHIND THAT CURTAIN!!!! Frances gives these seven stages of suppressing dissent: 1. Arguing. 2. Listening but not hearing. 3. Laughing it off (ridicule). 4. Ignoring. 5. Making invisible. 6. Forbidding (threats). 7. Getting rid of the dissenter. What we should discuss is how to counter the stick-in-the-mud sociopaths / psychopaths who wreck innovation by destroying the credibility of the dissenters who actually have a point and who usually have many good ideas on how to fix problems and make things better. My experience: Once entropy begins, it is a long spiral downward over several years until everything sort of fuzzes into lock step mediocrity. What's so amazing about that is that people in the power structure don't care because they are set for life by the "milking" they've done on the organization / agency. Postscript: After 29 years of extreme quality success, the Director of Budget and Finance, his aide, and a number of other competent people retired to get out of a very dysfunctional sick environment to save themselves and let nature take its course -- without their frustrated efforts to prop everything up artificially as the whole place begins to collapse. And rest assured, more is coming in 2012 as more people join the exodus as they have opportunity.

vxmine
vxmine

Good article, especially the resource point. Many times you just need to re-evaluate your talent pool and adjust. We are finding that some employees that have been in a position for a long time hunger for a new challenge.

r_cubed_engineering
r_cubed_engineering

It is part of human nature that failure is much more easy to achieve than success. We can all tell stories about organisations snatching failure from the jaws of success, but what we really need to understand is how to get success when the odds are against it. In my opinion, too many managers work on the basis of pushing public blame down the chain as far as it will go. My belief is that praise should be public but blame should be private; unfortunately, it takes a lot of guts for a manager to put his hand up and say "My team got that wrong. No names, no pack drill, but we are sorting it out." Too many organisations have adopted the methods of the UK Civil Service - you can not be promoted if you have a black mark on your file. You get a black mark on your file if you make a decision and it goes wrong. Therefore, to be promoted, NEVER MAKE A DECISION... and so organisations get the leaders they do.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Top level ability to take and manage risk. One of those so obvious you missed it type thingies, your five I see as symptoms in organisations that for all their pontificating about new, are scared stiff of it...

hug.login
hug.login

Good points and unforunately not unknown to me. It can be very frustrating to deal with nitpicker and people who are affraid to take decisions and only see the impact on their bonus. Most of the drag is probably coming from the fact that they don't like changes. The smallbrainers are just afraid of it:"HELP, A POSSIBLE CHANGE TO MY COMFORTABLE LIFE IS COMING!!!". However, as a project manager this is the reality and you have to handle it. If we leave the world to the milquetoast we would be doomed. ;-)

n_egii
n_egii

Great article. It is one of those articles which make me feel to plagiarize it somewhere else. I would add one more thing: 6. Being glued to old paradigms - even after you come up with a new idea you still use old mal-functional paradigms, processes, models and frameworks to realize those ideas. One of the biggest examples is waterfall based or derived processes and cost estimation models for software development. It took us decades to understand that those processes/models don't work and shift to agile development processes. The end result was that over 80% of all projects ended up either being total failure or overtime and overbudget.

buttuski
buttuski

Clear and to the point. Is there a printer-friendly version of this article?

Robiisan
Robiisan

I recall a time at a large R&D facility where an engineer submitted a schematic/blueprint for a new sub-assembly and its layout, necessary to make it fit in a limited space. When his manager called a meeting with the supervisors to discuss the potential of the new circuit and layout, the engineer was, of course, asked to join the meeting to help explain the circuit "from an engineering point of view." As they sat down to the meeting, the engineer looked at the schematic/blueprint and noticed that in the "creator" block, his name had been carefully erased and his manager's name inserted in its place before it was copied for the meeting. He quickly stood and declared that what they had in front of them was not the most current version of the drawings, gathered them all up, and left the room with them, presumably to get the more current version. He took them back to his office and ran them all through the shredder, including his original, and waited for them to start wondering where he was. When his manager showed up in his office, he told the manager what he'd done, that all evidence of the original design had been destroyed, why he'd done it, and that they would NEVER get that circuit design from him again unless the manager fessed up to the supervisors about his attempted plagarism. This happened in the 70's and, as far as I know, the engineer retired from his position in the early 90's without EVER providing that circuit design to the company.

ezee2010
ezee2010

Your 5-points are really amazing. The same points are some where in my mind as well. But, reading yours gives me a much confidence. Thanks Janson.....

Interactive Communication
Interactive Communication

Sad there isn't a development program for leaders of innovation. The best and most invitation have originated here in our great country

greg_nw
greg_nw

are guilty of killing innovation. Some allow you to succeed even if the products are a failure, as long as you can show a dashboard that says differrent.

Interactive Communication
Interactive Communication

Today's market there is much public excuse to slow down allowing the traditional lazy American to achieve nothing. The productivity of staying with the fast pace inviroment is really the ultimate way to help move production. The important step is to pull away at the right time. I continuously echo the strategic ideas presented, tho I explain it as gambling. Rullet tables are notorious for draining many people's hard earn green. I always say, walk away during your winning streak. People tend to push to much and obviously leave empty handed. I never would set some one up for failure and will help them when they return to the negotiation table. The circle of having great ideas in hand, is to present it flaulisly the first time. The situation is to give the team a chance to further devolpe the concepts with out cutting each other off. Tho be careful at the speed of inspiration. Dancing during brainstorming is always a great way to continue to lead valuable production with strategic chess moves.

mpollak
mpollak

It would be right to provide originator of idea with all support that person need to develop idea, not give it to formally more qualified person like an engineer who would more likely find reasons why it cannot work then make it better. Trying to change an idea from start to make it better is another mistake, since one who has idea surely know how it should be properly executed, else it is not other than hazy supposition. I have invented new Wind turbines that can be very effective in conversion of kinetic energy of wind, because it is different from all other turbines invented so far. But Engineers and Ph.D. of Physic first start persuading me that such turbine cannot exist, or at least that it surely has to be less than 59% effective since even ideal turbine cannot extract more energy from the Wind. Since I know at least one example of turbine with 95% efficiency, which everyone ignore as ugly extemption to the rule which prove that "Law" they take as absolute is not applicable to all kind of turbines, I keep explaining that each Law or Rule is valid only for set of conditions as stated or assumed, and if such conditions are missing or are changed, or new are introduced, then Law or Rule become unapplicable. So, support should be given to idea originator in first place, that would enable implementation of idea as envisioned by inventor, just to see if it would possibly work. Even if original idea would not work, if invention of such kind would potentially be of great value, still team should be formed to try to make it work. If idea work by itself, then there would be time to make it still better later. There is actually another mistake that can kill innovation, rquest that it must be theoretically proven first, before someone would make the prototype :-(( If I could prove that my turbine produce much more electricity by simply building such turbine and exchanging one standard turbine with it using same generator, then it should be at once comparable with standard model of turbine, specially if it is of same diameter as one replaced. That is all that should count, results! I would let esteemed Proffesors to establish the theory of its functioning and also the formulas for calculations that would acurately predict how much electricity at which speed of wind it can produce, but I would start production of such turbines at once because World need cheap electricity from renewable sources of energy........ But, to get money for investment, I would be required to submit theoretical explanations and detailed calculations and formulas, as there are iron clad rules about getting investment approwed. It of course has also be attested, and for this also I need to submit the formulas, right? Such inflexible rules are also invention killers. Innovation is just making something allready in use better or cheaper, more productive, etc. so all rules and formulas are known, therefore it is not problem in this case. Next thing that can kill Invention are Patent Laws. If something is really new and do not have even the name, how to explain it to Patent Engineers? I explained it best I can, and they told me it is not detailed enough. When I explained it more detailed as requested, I was told that I "overstep the Frame" whatever that can mean, and that I should not in second version give the name to it either :-(( In short, it is not just companies that can kill innovations and Inventions, it is also established science dogmas, Laws and rules and regulations for financing that ask for "Proof of Concept" even when there is need to finance the prototype........ Next if I make someone interested to work with me on turbine prototype, that person more likely or not start changing my turbine by adding "improvements" or subtracting parts they do not think are necesary, and without which turbine would not be as effective as it can be.

jeffpk
jeffpk

Exactly what happened to Sun Microsystems, in a nutshell.

mckinnej
mckinnej

Good article, but unfortunately it opens up one of the favorite topics on TR: Management Bashing. Coming from the other side of the fence and playing a little devil's advocate, managers have to guard against innovation that doesn't provide any value. It comes down to a decision based on the value, savings, speed, profits, or whatever the ROI is based on. If the ROI isn't there, then a manager would be a fool to move forward with it. Of course this means the person or persons who want the change will hit the company grapevine with all sorts of derogatory misinformation. It is worth noting that had the roles been reversed, these people would likely have made the same decision. (An exercise which I have personally tried before.) Excessive changes can result in something I call "Change Thrashing". This happens when organizations are so hell bent on changing that their primary activity becomes changing. Their real output drops to essentially zero. It's just a matter of time before they change themselves out of existence. I could write a book about this sort of stuff, but I need to get some real work done so I'll sum it up like this. Innovation is a form of change. We all know not all change is good. Managers are responsible for providing a sanity check to prevent over-exuberant workers from implementing innovative ways to destroy the business.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

Don't expand on any ideas created elsewhere. If it wasn't invented here, we don't need it. (AKA: Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Who needs cell phones?)

ctaylor
ctaylor

another organization where I worked was penalizing staff for speaking to staff from other departments within the same organization because it "disrespected the chain of command." When management took the position that saying "hi" to a coworker in the stairwell (without engaging in a conversation) disrespected the chain of command, morale plummetted as did the desire to verbalize, design, or implement innovation.

ctaylor
ctaylor

I have worked in more than one business where the people who generated the ideas and implemented innovations were stomped on because their changes, though immensely helpful to the bottom line, altered the balance of percieved managerial power.

dandick
dandick

I think it helps to separate brainstorming from the process of organizing, harvesting, and culling so that you have two separate processes, and then put those two distinct processes into a loop. That is, brainstorm, then process, then brainstorm, and then process and get to a place where you have a good, solid model of what you are trying to build. What's cool about it is that when you have the right stakeholders involved, you not only end up with a great design, but shared vision among those who will execute on the plan, those who will control it, who will do the risk management and quality management and make assessments for any acquisitions that may be required. Keeping the project on track against the baseline and avoiding scope creep may seem frustrating and stifling to creativity, but it's possible, and wise to have good, fast, responsive, and healthy change control processes so that you can leave room for creativity at the lower level tasks in a project and so you can, say, have that overlapping of phases where you are executing and controlling one phase while planning the next phase. It sort of blurs the lines between project and operational or help-desk work in a way, but rather than seeing everything as being the victim of one specific tool, it's better to have a full set of tools for support, project management, development, and have policies and procedures and your business structure optimized to make use of the best tools applying them where appropriate and keeping them away from where they are in appropriate. Use structures to support creativity and scalability. Get a glimpse at how companies like Google do it. Look at monster companies that act like a bunch of little start-ups energized, doing fantastic new things that haven't been done before sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding wildly. Break up the monotony. Give the people who cannot tolerate change their routine environments where they function best and cut the creative types loose and watch them go wild, and harvest the benefits of both. Some creative types will get tired and need a break where they can cruise on auto-pilot running routine operations for a bit, and that can give the folks who do routine operations a chance to be creative for a bit and take a break from the routine operations. This makes sure that you can easily cover when someone has to be absent or leaves to take on another job. But, the main thing I wanted to suggest is to do the normal separation of brainstorming and culling and then make a loop out of those two processes early on in the planning of a project, creating a work breakdown structure, breaking down the work items into tasks if they don't readily map straight across, and then continue to use this two phase initial planning for planning communications, scope, risk, quality, change, procurements, and all so you have good plans through and through.

fmcgowan
fmcgowan

I enjoyed this a great deal and it hit nearly every item on my list and a couple I missed. I think you missed "Establish highly detailed RIGID standards" and "Focus on the task at hand to the exclusion of all else." If my organization went by its standards, nothing would ever get done. My employer's standards are too numerous. For the most part, they are too detailed, too rigid and too long. We need more "guidelines" (but a relative few of those) and fewer standards. I would also suggest that encouraging developers to adopt an extremely tight focus on the task/project at hand stifles innovation by not encouraging people to create truly reusable tools and components. The increase in development time required by generalizing a component is usually less than that consumed by developing essentially the same thing a second (or third...) time from scratch. How good would modern tires be if the Goodyear engineers had to reinvent the whole wheel every time they wanted to change the tread design?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Sort yourself out man, I aren't visiting your link, wait it's not even a link... Post something out of this here book, presumably there's a chapter on the use of bean bags or something...

jck
jck

I would honestly buy it...if it was reasonably priced. Sounds like a great read. Sounds like what I went through at a former employer (I won't name them...they might still be lawsuit happy lol). It was 2001, and the Y2K thing was crashing and work drying up. Economic times were in a slump, and the place I was contracted to work didn't have the funds to keep me on for long at a post-90-day rate increase in the contract ($125 to $175 per hour). Despite the talking I tried to do, management kept insisting "..it's in the contract, and they agreed to it." and pushed. I got them to let me work 36 hours instead of 40 since I was flying weekly to Atlanta, but it still only kept me there 2 more months. It's amazing how "highly educated" people in management can't figure out what "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" means.

DSG7
DSG7

Just to say that your situation was very similar to that of the company where I work. There are select employees that control large aspects of the company to its detriment. There are people below these who try to prop the company up and try to make it better; some end up jumping, others are pushed. I started in my position hoping to help turn a mediocre company into a powerhouse, and all thats happened is my skills and talents have been abused and then ignored. Ideas I have had are now being touted as other peoples' (and are being implemented badly), and the first 6 points about dissent are used every time I open my mouth - even though I'm not "dissenting", I'm trying to contribute.

eclypse
eclypse

I can't imagine putting my name on someone else's work or doing anything like that and not giving credit where it is due. I am glad the engineer was clever enough to do what he did. I find it funny that no one else in the meeting asked what happened and wonder what the manager told the rest of them. =)

Amigut
Amigut

Innovate more effectively, with little money and few people, limited risk. Otherwise, almost always short of time and money for many improvements needed in the innovation.

Interactive Communication
Interactive Communication

M polack this is direct to you Agree with you right to the end of your statement. I think it is funny you disagree with patten laws when you closed your statement righting the same way lawyers talk and dictate laws. Patten laws are design to protect the economy more than the inventor her or himself. the invetor is the father of innovation and the economy is the koas of capitalism. Tho the strong will stand the week will succeed with the daily grind of working hard. The backbone of our country relies on the fundamental Value of helping the small business and prevent monopolization of large corporate greed. I ask you to follow me and be the innovator the USA has continuously bread over centuries. The invention of a light build ( i ask to be corrected if I'm wrong) took over hundred time to rule out what wouldn't work. Basically the inventor made sure that others will not waist there time finding a filament replacement. The truth is I have engineered a virtual hypothesis of true energy Production. I am not the first one with my concept. Other have stumble upon my design on their own. The laws of capitalism has shut them down many times. I as a true innovator, inventor, and leader will be the first one to help u with your concept. One can not do it all. Your design is interesting tho needing the finical backing of creating a prototype, we stand at the same intersection of grid locks at different location miles away, from this distance there needs no collaboration crossing Einstein relativity of time travel. Einstein believed in time traveling by folding time, if he was around I would slap the old man in the head while the echoes of consoling collaboration, I would explain "boss the ten percent of your mind u use would be useless staring into a apple iPad, probably HTML will punk u out the same military intelligence did, tho unix would have had u conspiring to teach laws of hacking. The bottom line mr Einstein seeing the future is technology u ponder with in your sleep while the Internet was created to see the future for war and the world wide web." Respectfully I would close to descried there is something faster than the speed of light, and e=mcsquare is for people who don't know how to think out side the box. Regardless I will help u fund your prototype, find me an a those interested in joining athttp://vehicleswithoutfuelorcharging.blogspot.com/ Understand this if all else fails, my hypothesis on replaceable energy could fail, tho the marketing strategic sales plan would be able to sale your invention, other invention, and new proven technology. I test all to prove weather I can fail, when I know there is definitely 100 other ways to create energy, tho I am stuck on proving my hypothesis and sailing yours or other innovators to our liquid capitalist bulls waiting to swing, while finding another source of energy is what America deserves for ever.

Robiisan
Robiisan

See my submission below about the R&D engineer and the schematic.

Raphael H Cohen
Raphael H Cohen

I am new to this forum and have not yet updated my profile. Should you really want to know, who I am you can have a look at my bio on www.getratex.ch/left3_1.html Why settle for one chapter when the full book will be available for download free of charge before end of June?

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

It is impossible to be competent in a dysfunctional environment. As soon as you are marked by management as a troublemaker, your effectiveness is over. "Moral Mazes" by Robert Jackall should be your guide. The real problem lies in the fact that management has turned to become narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths. "Snakes in Suits" by Dr. Robert Hare and Dr. Babiak should be a good guide to understanding it. The statement that some corporations told them that they'd like to have more psychopaths at the top is indicative of how sick business has become. Not mentioned was the situation where the County is now being sued: Of the three developers RIFfed, all three were women. Also, it should be noted that the job from I was RIFfed was reopened in fewer than 45 days -- totally illegal. It does appear that the court case against the county will be successful. The development manager has told everyone that they should hire younger people, threatened to fire people on FMLA and clearly violated Federal Law. Other problems are on the horizon. This is just one more opportunity to learn what not to do in management of an organization. The clear lesson is that if you want a healthy organization, you will follow process and be fair in your dealings. Furthermore, it is profitable to listen to the people who are on the front line, even if you don't like what they are saying -- perhaps especially if you don't like what they are saying.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

valuable resources trying to figure out whether someone who calls himself a professor of entrepreneurship is really not some sort of plank.... No sale still. I'm a tech not an exec, you need a different pitch.

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