Thursday, July 26, 2007

Behind every successful corporate innovator...

If you've followed our writing closely, you've probably noticed a significant focus on the "people" and "culture" aspects of innovation. That's intentional, since we believe that the people within your organization and the culture they exist within are the most significant enablers or inhibitors to innovation. In fact, one topic I'd like to consider today is why good people with great ideas often fail within an organization.

Innovators - those people who are able to generate the next best idea - are often people who are unafraid to "color outside the lines" and challenge existing corporate culture, norms and beliefs. Generally speaking, they are a bit more rebellious and open to new ways of thinking than their compatriots. These capabilities are what make the individuals innovative. However, these very strengths can cause a lot of these folks to fail.

With apologies to Goldwater - what many innovators fail to recognize is that zealotry in the defense of a great idea is a vice in many firms. Being convinced that you have a great idea is noble, but it does not change the fact that as an innovator, you must still work within the existing frameworks, approval processes and timeframes within the firm. Too often, innovators try to violate these norms and find themselves stymied. While it's easy to buck the existing norms when talking about a hypothetical product or service, attracting resources and changing budgets and priorities for a new idea is a lot more difficult.

In firms with a very strong culture, we like to marry an "idea" person or innovator with a culturally savvy individual, who can help build bridges and who knows where the informal power structures are located. Combining a person or team with real zeal for an idea with a person who can act as a bridge builder and interface to the existing power structure can result in a lot more success for the idea. In a rational world, great ideas would be judged on their merits alone, and in some organizations I think it happens that way. In the vast majority of businesses, however, conflicting priorities, existing projects and limited budgets mean that an idea, no matter how good it is, needs to get support from a broader audience before it can even be considered, much less moved forward into development. Too many innovators simply don't have the skills necessary to identify potential sponsors and build support.

Behind every successful corporate innovator lies a person or team who helped smooth the way. If you are an innovator and find yourself impatient with the decision making process or the work involved in building support and rapport internally, identify a sponsor or senior manager who knows the organization and understands how to get things done within the corporate context. On the other hand, if you are a person who understands how things get done and wants to get more involved in an innovation role, acting as a champion for ideas and building consensus is a very important aspect in most organizations.
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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 10:34 AM

4 Comments:

Anonymous Sue Sampanthar said...

Jeff - I like your suggestion to the corporate innovator on building a mentor relationship with a senior manager. Having someone to champion your great idea and guide you through the politics is a recipe for success.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Emilio IT said...

What you say is brilliant. I just whant to stress one point though, in very well organized companies,multinationals often, roles and norms are a great shield for poor peopole,as for creativity and skills speaking. If the top management is one of this kind than there is a tendency to create clones of it and position them down to the chain for at least one or two leveles down.A creative person doesn't like strict roles, we know this, but even if he try to follow as much as possible stupid roles, made for stupid persons in order to avoid them to make stupid actions, after a while he can't stand this situation anymore and he explodes.Human resources departmens can play a major role in saving these people! Often they not prepared to maange these type of pepole. These pepole are not effected by big money or ststus and this make human risources in some difficulties.

12:15 AM  
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8:24 AM  
Anonymous stop pre ejaculation said...

Thanks a lot for this time sharing of innovation about BEHIND EVERY SUCCESSFUL CORPORATE INNOVATOR. This is really the best website about innovation i have ever read.

8:17 PM  

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