Innovative But Not Innovating

A Critical Doer controls what is theirs to control 

Is it possible to be innovative but not innovating?

A recent article in The Economist published a study ranking nations in innovative efficiency and through an innovation index based upon universities, patents, and citations.  The United States was near the top of the chart in innovative efficiency and topped the innovation index.  If you’re American, that’s good news, right?  Yes it is…unless you feel your organization is not being innovative.

If an independent study shows Americans as a culture are highly innovative…but it’s crossed your mind that an organization is not innovating…it should trigger alarms all over the place.  Innovation is much like a seed.  No matter how good the seed, it will not grow and produce a harvest in a poor environment.  In short, if an organization is not innovating it’s rarely a problem with the people…there’s a problem with the environment.

Here are a few litmus tests you can run that will help you gain some insight and come up with solutions to turn around an organization that is not innovating.

  1. A great place to start in analyzing an underperforming organization is leadership.  Innovation from innovative people can easily be stifled through top down rather than bottom up management practices.  Any opportunity to empower people to own their circumstances, receive credit for and profit from taking initiative will unlock creativity and spark game-changing innovation.
  2. Restrictive bureaucracy. Enlightened leaders and their organizations can often be shackled in bureaucracy that seems to take more effort than the innovation itself.  Understanding many industries have to abide by numerous regulatory laws that take time and energy, it’s still a worthy endeavor in organizations large and small to slash policies and practices that hinder rather than enable innovation.
  3. Communication.  In our journey together as Critical Doers, we’ve spent many posts talking about the importance of a good mind meld between leadership and membership in order to understand the “why” behind a strategy and see tangible commitment through resources and policies that make success possible.  If you’re doing a good job at communication, no one asks “what the heck is going on around here?”

Organizations are continually striving for innovation that can make them the leader in their field and secure their future.  The good news is that innovative people are already in your organization.  They are eager to show what they can do and give you a decisive edge over competitors if…you will let them.

Your challenge is to carefully examine the environment in your organization and see if there are things you can do better to create an environment where your people can be exactly what the data says they are…innovators.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


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Updated: October 12, 2015 — 11:42 pm