Fostering innovation requires a different mindset. Organizations have a tendency to stifle ideas and kill creativity. Fortunately, there a few simple steps you can take to get the creative juices flowing again and generate breakthrough ideas.
Today’s post is by Dr. Liz Alexander.
Just as bass gobble up minnows, big companies swallow small ones. One of the main reasons being that they desire the Holy Grail of innovation. Something the vast majority of CEOs, when surveyed, say is a key lever of growth and hence crucial to their sustainable success. No problem if you’re Google or Apple with billions to spend on “disrupters.” Or if you’re still a start-up.
But your business may have reached a point where you’re too small to afford to acquire breakthrough thinking, but big enough to have morphed into something more conservative, consensus seeking, even too comfortable for your own good. All those processes you put in place to help everything run smoothly have created a kind of “regression to the mean.” In other words, your focus on managing toward the middle has pushed entrepreneurial thinking out the door.
Yet that’s not an absolute. Of the 30 “most transformative innovations” since the 1970s, as identified by the Wharton School of Business, the majority—including fiber optics, handheld mobile phones, liquid-crystal displays and digital photography—were invented by employees. But as shown by that last example (rejected by Kodak, see #1 below), it takes a certain willingness by leadership to both nurture and appreciate their efforts.
Below are five practices or, to be more accurate, mindsets common to the entrepreneurs I’ve known. Not only through my professional involvement, but also as someone who left corporate life 30 years ago to “do my own thing,” because the culture was crushing my creativity. Which do you recognize?