What are the most obvious of innovation traps? Rosabeth Moss Kanter is the former chief editor of the Harvard Business Review, a distinguished Professor at Harvard and an innovation pundit.
Innovation: Moss Kanter describes innovation classic traps
Now she contributes to the review from time to time and she is responsible for a fundamental article which was published by HBR in November 2006, entitled: Innovation, the classic traps.
Here are, for your benefit, the main lessons of Innovation according to Rosabeth Moss Kanter:
- “Strategy Lessons: not every innovation idea has to be a blockbuster […]; don’t just focus on new product development: transformative ideas can come from any function—for instance, marketing, production, finance, or distribution […]; successful innovators use an “innovation pyramid,” with several big bets at the top […]; midrange ideas in test stage and a broad base of early-stage ideas or incremental innovations […],
- Process Lessons: tight controls strangle innovation; the planning, budgeting, and reviews applied to existing businesses will squeeze the life out of an innovation effort […]; companies should expect deviations from the plan: if employees are rewarded simply for doing what they committed to do, rather than acting as circumstances would suggest, their employers will stifle and drive out innovation […],
- Structure Lessons: while loosening formal controls; companies should tighten interpersonal connections between innovation efforts and the rest of the business. Game-changing innovations often cut across established channels or combine elements of existing capacity in new ways; If companies create two classes of corporate citizens […] those in the existing business will make every effort to crush the innovation,
- Skills Lessons: even the most technical of innovations requires strong leaders[…]; members of successful innovation teams stick together through the development of an idea […]; because innovations need connectors […] they flourish in cultures that encourage collaboration”
Unfortunately, it takes more than just lip service to a good recipe to produce a good meal. It requires good and passionate people, hard work, commitment and above all, honesty and consistency.
One of the major pitfalls we witness in modern organisations is that the method is right, the internal sales pitch is right, the concept is right but there is poor commitment to deliver the right things and produce any results.
This is, in my mind, what makes the difference between real and would-be innovators. The former believe in what they do, the latter are quite happy with lip service.
And honestly, lip service won’t cut the mustard and will produce frustration (hardly a good factor for productivity). At least, with Rosabeth Moss Kanter, we now know what the recipe should look like. And let us hope that managers may — at last — learn from their mistakes so as to cook better meals for the benefit of their clients and their employees.