in Innovation

Innovation and Senior People

I have read an interesting post titled “Put your Senior People on Innovation Projects” on the BFQ Innovation Weblog.

Really interesting reading.

The main two things I brought away from this post are the following two sentences:

  • current quarter pressures had forced a business unit to cut costs by stopping efforts in a promising new area
  • generally it is the experienced heavyweights who can overcome all the process and political obstacles that will occur
  • If you want to change the culture of an organisation so that it values innovation and new business start-ups then get your most senior and best people involved in these activities. Don’t delegate it to lower level staff and hope for the best.

This is absolutely true when talking about innovation, even if you are not IBM.

Anyway there are some point that I think need to be investigated a little further.

Political obstacles. I think this the area where most companies fail, specially in a country like Italy. Company politics is the biggest innovation prevention enemy. There is no easy way to solve this issue. If you live in highly politicized company environment you end up working as a lobbyist and the time required to manage such an environment does not cope with the fast pace required by managing innovation. It’s a dead end.

The second thing I would like to say is that I am not really sure of how many senior managers will take the risk to “roll the dice” on innovation projects. I have seen too many times innovative projects fail because “Our CEO will not like it” or “Our customers will not use that”. This is much more true if you live in a company as those described in the previous paragraph.

Solutions ?

Well, I think that having enthusiast junior people in you innovation department is a must. On the other side you need to make the innovation people involved in these activities headed by a heavyweight senior manager trusted by other senior managers. This guy has to be smart enough to understand your innovation ideas, brave enough to “roll the dice”, and politicized enough to make your ideas go through all the hurdles.

Why do I blog this? Being hit by politics is a bad thing. Remember the Vice President of Stupidity.

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