There is a great big spectrum of business innovation and too often the perception is that innovation only applies to things like iPhones and other great big disruptive products, tools, processes or marketing campaigns. Innovation also occurs in small and medium businesses when a person creates a new process for managing stock control or automates their payroll. Innovation happens on the desktop and small office as well as the global market place. If you are a business owner or manager are you aware of the innovation that is going on in your organisation? Do you know if you are supporting and sustaining innovation or stunting and destroying it? I was in a client meeting yesterday that was focused on rolling out a new performance management system. The meeting included a number of managers and administrative level persons. During the meeting there were no less than three suggestions that were raised by the administration team that were met with a negative reaction almost instantly. There may have been more but these three ideas stick out in my mind since they are ones that I have discussed with other clients as well. These ideas were ways to compound the benefits this business was going to realise yet the ‘no team’ opted for the negative option rather than listening further to gain a better understanding of what was being put forward. I wonder if the CEO would have supported the ideas or quashed them without a discussion. I wonder how many other great ideas are killed by colleagues and managers who opt for the easy option of ‘no’ as opposed to the more interesting and potentially risky option of ‘yes- lets have a look at this more closely.’ Innovation can hatch and thrive with ‘yes’ and gets buried further with ‘no.’ How many organisational cultures are riddled with people who prefer the easy option of ‘no’ and the maintenance of the status quo. If you look at your own behaviour honestly do you see a pattern of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ reactions to the seeds of innovation in your business? Are you permitting a culture of ‘no’ without even being aware of it? All of us in business know that the speed of change is increasing and we can point to the acquisition of Instagram byFacebook this past week as an example of just how fast things are going. Instagram is a super young company that built a substantial user base (no profits) in an exceptionally short period of time (18 months) with an attractive, free and fun application for the iPhone, (and subsequently Android). This is a big example but it is happening at all levels in all markets at varying paces. To maintain competitive it is now imperative that we all rid ourselves of any sense that we know what the future looks like, shed our reliance on existing systems and processes and adopt a “I haven’t got a clue” perspective. If you really get this you will not only support the ideas of others , you will actively seek them. And once you are successfully creating this cultural environment of ideas and innovation you are on your way to becoming a ‘learning organisation’ and building greater resilience into your organisation. By building greater resilience you are creating readiness for what no person knows………the future. I guess all of our futures may begin with a “yes.”
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