Innovation vs Innovationless

Companies often find themselves stalled out or slowing down in their capacity to innovate as they grow and mature. Performance and competitive edge diminish over time as innovation slows.

This image and post are a work in progress, but represent this idea.

We systematically remove thinking in organizations, therefore extincting innovation. Thinking becomes reserved for those “at the top”. We say we want everyone to innovate, yet leaders “know the way and show the way”. All the “thinking” has to align (we extinguish all benefit from “diverse teams”) and funnel into the “right direction” to be moved forward through decision-making processes. Innovationless.

To increase innovation, enable thinking through psychological ownership. This means true input and active participation, and developing the ability as a leader to facilitate the integration of opposing ideas to find new possible options or ways forward. Empower testing of ideas, helping people make these small and “experimentable”. Leaders often try once and give up – I ask people but “crickets” nobody has any ideas. We have disabled their thinking over years, and it will not be undone in one conversation – create the environment for people to take tiny steps to evolve their thinking and bring ideas forward. The smaller the steps and the more genuine the leader in their desire to get real input, the more rapidly it will happen.

The other dynamic at play is the bureaucracy of the systems we operate within. This is encapsulated artfully by Dee Hock, founder of Visa: “Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.” Bureaucracy grows itself and slows us down – people are trapped in a process or waiting on a decision.

A combination of increased psychological ownership, with simple principles and structure creates the environment for thinking human beings at work who can bring their best and innovate, not just show up as “non-thinking, doers”.

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