Innovation: DOA

If you want to make sure your organization’s chances of innovating are as dead as its chances of succeeding long-term, follow these five steps, and innovation will be dead as the proverbial doornail. As an added bonus, if you follow these five steps, you’ll also completely demoralize your people. Now that’s a win/win.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Use a recruiter to help build the team. The good news is taking this kind of safety-first approach will ensure the candidates referred to you will be fully homogenized. No misfits. The bad news is the true innovators are misfits.
  2. Hold your team leads accountable to traditional business metrics. The good news is traditional business metrics drive the top line and the bottom line in the current fiscal year, addressing market demand today and filling competency gaps today. The bad news is if you’re not looking three years ahead, anticipating market demands, and developing talent for tomorrow, your team leads won’t save you.
  3. Deploy lean and six-sigma principles. The good news is lean, six-sigma, and ISO 9001 will ensure you’re consistently solving yesterday’s issues. The bad news is it’s not yesterday anymore, and innovation management is about breaking consistent norms and creating things that haven’t been created yet.
  4. Fund a project based purely on ROI. The good news is the more limited the financial and intellectual resources deployed to a project, the quicker the ROI. The bad news is innovation requires an integrated approach, with a broad mix of projects, in which ROI is estimated and tracked at the portfolio level to maximize long-term net outcomes.
  5. Reward quarterly results. The good news is rewarding quarterly result requires short-term thinking only. The bad news is innovation requires long-term thinking that rewards short-term efforts, supports experimentation, and encourages learning from failures.

On Further Review …

Take another look at that list. Chances are those five things made you very successful in your operations up to now. Ironically, you might have been unknowingly killing innovation all along, discouraging innovators all the time, and wondering why growth is slow and hard.

Innovation is a different game. It’s played by its own rules. Would you use the baseball rulebook to play hockey?

You might. But you’d lose.

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