Why do companies with a lot of great ideas don't get great results?
In a very thought-provoking blog post entitled Ideation vs. Innovation, the authors build on management guru Peter Drucker's observation: "Creativity does not automatically lead to actual innovation."
The gist is this. Within organizations there are plenty of creative people generating plenty of great ideas. But great ideas without great implementation don't necessarily lead to great results or true innovation.
Who could disagree?
The authors make some interesting observations that I'd like to take further.
"In an encouraging environment almost anyone can come up with good ideas." Well, it's optimistic, anyway. I can't comment on the brain power or ability to "think outside the box" of your typical employee. But too many companies believe that encouraging good ideas means having a suggestion box or not calling somebody a jerk when they speak out of turn or disagree with the "ranking guy (or woman)" in a meeting. In addition to creativity, it takes courage and diplomacy to raise a good - but unpopular - idea. A lot to ask of "almost anyone."
"Great, original ideas require more than talk. They require constructive action." They certainly do: a good idea without action behind it is just a fond memory. But all too often we business people drive to implementation too fast - or too slow. Either can kill a good idea. And either can lead to mistaking a bad idea for a good one. Two resources which often fall short would help solve this problem: competency in critical thinking and time to think.
I agree with the authors' conclusion that the scarce people are those who have the experience, know-how and
staying power to assemble, organize and coordinate all the elements
required to produce innovation.
So how do we get more of them?
I'd like to suggest five things leaders can do.
- Make sure that those who have experience, knowledge, abilities and critical thinking skills are able to to help others to develop and apply them - regardless of rank or reporting relationship.
- Learn how to take advantage of the benefits that social media brings to surface, discard, improve upon and nurture ideas within organizations.
- Do a better job vetting good ideas before they die on the vine.
- Engage, equip and energize people to turn great ideas into action and results.
- Recognize achievements in a personally meaningful way
Any others you'd like to add to the list?