“Keep your friends close, and keep your enemies closer.” – Sun-Tzu
The momentum behind innovation continues to build at companies around the globe. Everywhere I go, I hear and see great things about new initiatives and executive commitment to innovation as organizations chart their course through the choppy waters of global economic turmoil to the smooth waters of success.
Yet despite this trend, you don’t have to look far to find individuals who are not on board with the program. These are the innovation detractors—people who are more focused on their own agenda and don’t care if the corporate innovation and business goals are casualties along the way.These individuals are usually lurking in the background working quietly to undermine the change in the wind in order to protect their private interests. But occasionally, they step out and reveal their true nature.
Leveraging knowledge to drive the identification and synthesis of new solutions to innovation challenges is fundamental to a strong innovation program. Yet there are those who would limit the company’s vision in order to protect their own. I recently had a Director of Knowledge Management request that we not show our innovation technology to his company’s engineers because it was setting expectation with his knowledge workers that he
was not able to meet with his current solutions.
There are identifiable innovation skills and best practices. Equip your workers with these skills, and your innovation workers will become more productive. But I have heard R&D managers asking to short cut training on innovation skills so as to not take too much time away from engineers. If you don’t invest in your people, you can’t expect them to deliver to their maximum potential.
One challenge many companies must grapple with is ensuring their freedom to operate once they have selected an innovation path. At times, a company may run into a competitive piece of IP just as they are ready to go to market. What then? We equip our clients with a specific technique for patent busting that allows them to find alternative, non-infringing methods to achieve their objective. Following this method also provides them with
documentation to substantiate the non-infringing nature of their
solution. Sounds pretty useful, eh? Well, I have heard internal corporate IP attorneys state they didn’t want their engineers to have access to
These are some examples of resistance to innovation that I have seen at some organizations. What have you seen? Do you know who the enemies of innovation in your organization are?