Initiate, enable or get out of the way
Thursday August 2, 2012
By Bill Van Eron
Chief Innovation Strategist at Headwaters Marketing
I love the above saying, as it has only increased in critical relevance over the last few years.
But how in this new emerging power infrastructure do we really know what role we are playing?
Each role has its own success criteria and challenges. More to the point of this blog, how do we position ourselves to benefit from where we are in the process? The answer can be as simple as making sure innovation has an open yet qualifying process and you are in a beneficial role, not a stop sign.
This stuff is exciting as this is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. As one who has seen the oppression innovation gatekeepers of all sorts can cause, if there ever is a parade -- virtual or real -- I will be in it.
We all know people we wish would just get out of the way. The good news is their days are limited. Most companies' or organizations' innovation quotient is increasingly tied to sustainable growth and value. So as an organization's capability to enable innovation becomes increasingly traceable to where meaningful ideas are born, processed, evaluated and applied, I suspect that where they are stopped will be the impetus for change to keep this vital process going.
Whether you initiate, enable or get out of the way, you all win. Certainly not every idea shakes out as high impact - in fact, few do - so some devil's advocates and critical factor processors are vital, but that's not what I'm talking about. I am talking about the importance of encouraging new thinking, of taking ownership in a helpful way to ideas no matter who and where they originate, and of having the courage to get past these inadvertent roadblocks. Certainly, there is no career or job path demand for being a roadblock, so people who fall into that position also need encouragement to change.
Let's discuss why people fall into those unfortunate positions. They are usually smart people in positions that required some acumen. I have seen division managers, marketing managers and VP's in Fortune 50 companies just cringe, laugh or ignore new ideas that -- when given a chance -- actually broke all performance records. Some stayed resistant, some changed marginally and a rare few embraced this new way to do things.
False pride and fear of loss of control have stopped many a great idea in its tracks. In truth, the people who help the right things happen all look like stars.
We all hear about our economy on a macro level and when conventional, "safe" approaches fail - as some have - innovation is then given its proper light in the grand scheme of things. Everything we do, how we form opinions, who we listen to, what proves out as spin and what as truth as enabled by the power of online communities, are indeed shaping a new world we can be proud of.
I must also address the "age thing," as too many in media try to position the Millennial generation and Boomers at opposite ends. As a momentary gratuitous spokesman for my own generation as a Boomer, I can say I love what our youth are doing collectively to break down the walls that stopped the right things from happening.
I can also say that I find great satisfaction, as do many other Boomers, in helping our youth to step up into change as we embrace it ourselves. I like that I can also learn from people one-third my age and enjoy the process. It's revitalizing all around. We know that our youth has to be empowered, inspired and innovative so they can take that proverbial baton home.
You may not choose to respond to this blog or even agree with all that is being said, but please initiate, enable or get out of the way.