We’ve all experienced a bucket of cold water tossed in our faces during a corporate brainstorming session, perhaps by a colleague professing to be refining ideas, or a senior manager endlessly demanding more data or another study before approving any change in any business process at all. I know these characters are blocking the adoption of social tools in businesses everywhere. The folks at What If Innovation Partners have captured these innovation killers in a cartoonish way, but it’s still very illuminating.
Lisa Buckley, Simon Bray, Blake Glenn, and Bret Begun, The Legion Of Innovation Doom
Act of treachery: Doctor Gravitas despises the fuzzy front end of innovation. He’s aboutanswers and impact, but doesn’t appreciate the journey. He’s all business all the time and can’t get in the spirit of things. He can’t step outside his normal 9-5 to think creatively about the challenges facing his company. Doctor Gravitas is a real downer and doesn’t believe that work and fun should ever mix.
Weapons of choice: “Can we dispense with this nonsense and just get to the idea?” “Yeah, but what’s the ROI going to be?” “Experience tells me …”
Kryptonite: Show him how getting outside the norm can drive strong commercial ideas. Illustrate the importance of stimulus, and demonstrate the link between creativity and results. Tell him stories about how “the fluffy stuff,” applied smartly, has led to business successes.
(illustration by Alex Fine)
I especially like the Airport Innovator, ‘thinks he’s an innovation black belt because he’s read all of the innovation books’, and the Silo, who ‘believes that innovation is out to get him—that it’s a distraction from “getting the real work done”—and so he distances himself from it.’
This reminds me of the so-called ‘Wet Blanket List’ from Nonaka and Takeuchi’s The Knowledge Creating Company. The authors suggest that the fire of innovative ideas is often smothered by one or more of these twelve wet blankets:
1. I am too busy to study it
2. It’s a good idea, but the timing is premature
3. It is not in the budget
4. Theory is different from practice
5. Isn’t there something else for you to do ?
6. I think it doesn’t match corporate policy
7. It isn’t our business; let someone else think about it
8. Are you dissatisfied with your work ?
9. It’s not improvement, it’s common sense
10. I know the result, even if we don’t do it
11. I will not be held accountable for it
12. Can’t you think of a better idea ?