Monday, July 26, 2004

HBS Working Knowledge: Innovation: Why Innovations Sit on the Shelf This HBS WK article is pretty interesting in its assertion that a lot of companies fail to innovate due to an inability to conduct candid conversations about internal problems. It goes on to say that most traditional change initiatives to foster this kind of conversation usually fail quite early, giving instead, the offering the following 4 point-process:

1. Advocate, Inquire, Repeat - "It's the leader's job to point managers and team members in a specific direction but to make sure it's a direction they can respond to. To effect innovation, a leader must advocate, then inquire, and continue to repeat these actions as necessary"

2. Cut to the Chase - "Energizing an initiative requires that the conversations about it focus on only the most significant factors facing the organization—the company's ability to carry out the initiative and any obstacles to performance"

3. Be Open and Inclusive - "Fundamental business innovations almost always require changing the worldview and the behaviors of a whole set of interdependent players—the CEO, the senior leadership team, and managers down the line. This won't happen without a collective, public conversation."

4. Strive for honesty alongside low risk - "By encouraging honesty, then rewarding it, leaders can demonstrate to all levels of the organization that candor is valued."

All of this is a little optimstic in its real-life assessment of risk and the ability to be open in the manner they ask for - but none-the-less, some interesting ideas

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