Sunday, July 11, 2010

Change from within

I was reading Rosabeth Moss Kanter's blog post Innovation: Who Else is Doing it? and I found myself quite impressed with her message.

Two points struck me as ugly truths.

Firstly, if you truly wish to be successful, you have to have a strong tolerance for failure. It's been said of Winston Churchill that he had 10 ideas in a day but only 1 of them was ever any good - and often he didn't know which one it was.

Secondly, it's odd how pride can cloud one's judgement. Have you ever noticed that it can sometimes be easier to take advice from a stranger or external expert? Have you ever noticed that deferring to your spouse, best-friend or colleague can be a hard pill to swallow?

Kanter summarizes this well:

The search for innovation benefits from listening to people who are not the usual idea generators, who might look and seem different. "Open innovation" has become a popular catchphrase, signifying that it is acceptable to look outside the organization for new ideas because all creativity does not lie within. But then I see another conservative bias toward external innovators, even when more of the creativity might lie within, in the minds of junior employees or occupants of routine jobs that are treated disdainfully. Better a maverick from halfway around the world or crowd-sources on the Internet than a nerd in one's own organization. People already in the organization are often the most under-utilized asset.

Sometimes getting a fresh perspective from an external source can be both refreshing and innovative; however, sometimes the experts are the ones who are busting their chops in the trenches right next to you.


  1. We see again that the demands of the corporate world of innovation and creativity come as one commentor says - a culture of learning. In learning , mistakes are our friends and failure breeds success.

    Dan Pink has given examples of innovation coming from within - companies having forums where all employess can post their ideas which are then discussed. He gave an example from a company which gives employess time to do their own thing and be creative. The results were incredible. Creativity was driven by allowing employees to be self directed and not using incentives.

  2. Well said. What is the old definition of an expert? Someone who lives 100 miles away?


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