Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Monday Startup: Stifled Innovation

I have worked with several organizations over the past 20 years that stifle innovation.  I aim to be a visionary leader.  For as long as I can remember I have been the one in a group who asks, "Why do we do what we do?  Why this way?  Why not another way?  Is there a better way?"  In order to create value for owners I have worked for, or accomplish the mission of non-profits I have led, I tend to see the big picture of where a strategy (or lack of one) is leading and then challenge the status quo.  

Right now, I am involved with two non-profits and both struggle with growth because of leaders who are unwilling to engage in creative destruction.  They are not willing to cannibalize their own outdated models and structures.  Both are doomed to die unless they change. 

 In many cases, I have seen two main reasons for this. 

First conservative agent/managers who do not want to rock the boat or fail in the eyes of their owners, thus they do not take risks which could add value to the owners in order to protect themselves instead.  Leadership that resists innovation and change out of fear and self protection develops a culture of non-innovation around them.  Other "yes men" who want to preserve their jobs do not have the courage (stones, balls, etc.) to challenge their bosses, thus group-think takes over. 

Second, ignorant decision makers who do not understand markets, market forces, or the competitive environment believe myths. I have observed owners who think consumers should buy their product or donate to their cause because they always have.  As long as there is money, people will want to see value associated with investment.  Risks must be taken to keep making things better whether profit in a business or a better world in the case of charities and non-profits.

Most often, organization and companies that resist change plateau and then experience a long slow decline.  Why do these change management issues occur?

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