Innovation, the Genie in the Magic Lamp
By now, I’m sure many of you have read articles about how important innovation is, why it may fail, why it is necessary, and why so many either choose to ignore it or implement it symbolically. Innovation is not only difficult, risky, unpredictable, but foremost it is THREATENING to many. The last one, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons why innovation programs fail to deliver or even get ‘sabotaged’ by politically savvy players in politics-driven xx percent of companies/institutions (use your imagination to fill in the ‘xx’ number).Let’s paint a picture here. I’m taking a leap of faith by saying that the corporate ‘politicians’ are not dumb; some of them may actually be very smart. Let’s take an average executive who fits this profile and place the pressure of not innovating in front of him. If saying ‘no' to it is not an option, this corporate ruler has two choices, one to embrace it, and the other to implement it in a marginalized ‘risk-free' way that would lead to its quick and inexpensive demise. ‘We tried it, and it really didn’t work. We closed it to not waste any more money and people’s valuable time is a common conclusion.
Why is that?
Let us assume this person is a veteran in his/her company holding high-level respectable position and maintaining status-quo or even a minor level of growth. This person is at the top and he/she sees Innovation as becoming Sisyphus who was made to endlessly roll a huge boulder up a steep hill. It’s hard, it requires risks, stumbling or even falling while implementing it…it’s a dirty job. Not only that, our corporate suit knows very well that taking on this task may make him an outcast from his upper management and executive pedigree.
The answer is simple, Innovation may destroy before it delivers. This sounds serious, and it is. So you are holding Aladdin’s magic lamp with the innovation genie trapped inside. Let’s assume you did not burry it deep in the sand, rubbed the lamp, and released the the innovation genie.Close your eyes for a minute and use your imagination to visualize the Genie (would love to hear from you what yours looks like). The Genie is out, so what’s next? Properly exercised Innovation will not only expose numerous deficiencies in the company's processes, policies, culture, products, etc. but it could become the the irreversible force that may sometimes shake the very foundation, the core strategy and business of the company…and who would want that? So if you are in a secure position of ‘importance' with a nice fat paycheck and a comfortable social circle of your corporate buddies, would you be willing to unleash something as powerful as properly implemented innovation movement just because you know it may be the right thing to do? And even if you dare to see the truth and are willing to change, would you be willing to take a lot of heat from your peers for going after changes in their areas?
So is it a ‘Yes' or a ‘No'?
If you say ‘Yes' (God bless you), you are on your way to success or your own end.In case of the latter, you will still feel the thrill of doing the right thing and being freed from the corporate Matrix of conformance and mediocre success and on your way to a better career…most likely elsewhere. At that point, the boulder and the hill will make you a happier person, and every next hill will become less steep and the boulder will be lighter…and perhaps you will have fellow rollers to help you.