Have you identified the project in your organization that will shift the ground all your competitors compete on?
Have you protected it from suffocation under layers of corporate security blankets?
No matter what kind of organization you work at, there is a good chance the idea is there — In a business plan, maybe in development. And, more than likely covered in security blankets.
Alice Rawsthorn identified corporate security blankets as a prime culprit in a recent article, Why The Overwhelming Number Of Design Flops? (April 8, International Herald Tribune). Included in her list of blankets was ‘My Competitor Did It’ and ‘Design by Committee.’
Ground shifting innovation is moved by two key forces within any organization: Vision and Fear. When conceptualized, vision drives truly innovative ideas. It attracts key talent in your organization. It drives energy and excitement that something astounding is working its way through the pipeline.
But then the concept needs to be operationalized. Here come the security (or should we say in-security) blankets.
Security blankets reduce risk for project participants, not necessarily for the organization. They have a tendency to muffle the vision a project starts out with. They try to build into a project points of reference that provide cover for decisions:
- Our competitor had something similar that worked. (If they did it, it couldn’t fail too badly)
- That supplier is the biggest in the industry. (I can’t get fired if they couldn’t do it)
- That cuts our margin on our best selling product. (Protect the home ground, don’t innovate!)
- The group has agreed on this direction. (They’ll have to fire us all)
- Our focus group felt it should be more like what they have. (Don’t blame me if the focus group wasn’t visionary!)
- Part of this idea has to be mine! (Career building, change for changes sake.)
You need to identify that ground shaking project and throw off the security blankets that pretend to protect careers. If your company is going to change the world, change it. Don’t almost change it. Remove the need for security blankets that muffle, and establish a strategy that provides alternative routes to success. Establish a culture that can learn from mistakes and leverage the experience gained to proceed to the next step in your vision to shake the marketplace.