Thursday Thought Experiment built around the question, “Who Needs Innovation Training?”
This is about little ideas. Simple little ideas that can add up to big improvements in productivity. Little creative thoughts that flair-up only to be extinguished.
When learning a new job, folks typically spend quite a bit of time in the HOW stage. (How do I get this done, Who do I talk to, What needs to happen…) They then move quickly through the WHY stage. (That short amount of time when what you have to do and what makes sense simply doesn’t match up.) And, if they last long enough, end up in the State-of-DO. (Easier to do than to question Why.)
The more efficient your training the quicker employees end up in the State-of-DO. Organizationally this encourages a top-down pull innovation process instead of a bottom-up push innovation process.
Some employees, however, stay in the Why stage. Wally Bock got me to thinking about this when he identified “Insider Outsiders” who just don’t seem to fit in. They see and do things differently but “may hold the key to dramatic improvement.” Usually they are put up with, not encouraged.
It can seem natural in a complex system to see ‘getting things done’ as the secret for productivity, not the question, “Why?”
Innovation training often focuses on managers, calling for them to capture new ideas, accept set-backs as a part of progress, and identify pathways to approval. All good things, but what if more time was spent not on mangers but on line employees?
Who first sees the small incremental process improvements that can move an organization? Folks in executive offices or on the assembly line? Those dealing with corporate-wide budgets or the pencil vendor? Staff reviewing sales reports or service reps talking to customers?
One big killer is when an idea turns up at the wrong moment or in the wrong form. Employees who keep pushing alternatives appear irritating or distracting to the task at hand. Managers will tend to roll over such ideas to avoid delays in the current project.
How can you save ideas born in the heat of getting things done? Change the reaction or alter initial delivery?
So, who needs innovation training?
Should managers be trained to encouraging employees to come forward or should employees be trained on better strategies for presenting their ideas? What would this do to training budgets?
Would a system that empowers employees with the secrets to effective idea presentation change your organization? Can the State-of-DO effectively mix with the Why stage?
What happens if employees never stop asking, “Why?”