In many organizations people are encouraged to continue with ‘business as usual’ and to maintain the status quo. When you think about this, it is quite logical to behave in this way. The current leaders and managers have risen to their position, because they supported this current way of doing business. And apparently they were good at it, otherwise they would not have been promoted. This means that leaders are really stimulated to stay in their comfort zones.
A lot of organizations see innovation as a side activity to the main business. An activity, which has to be finished, quickly, so they can quickly return to the business as usual. They want innovation to ‘behave’ according to the rules of the existing business.
This conformity will not create a fertile environment for change and innovation. It was Susan Jeffers who said, “if you do what you did you get what you got”. This applies to your business as well. So, if you want different results you need a different approach. Conformity will kill innovation.
Successful innovation requires new rules and forms. Here are some of them.
1. Innovation is not a one-off activity but needs to be an integral, continuous part of the business culture.
2. The leader must be willing to leave the zone of comfort for the zone of opportunity.
3. The team members must be very diverse. Diversity is crucial for creating a vibrant and creative environment.
4. People must be allowed to think differently and also have the authority to say no. It was George Bernard Shaw who said that all progress is determined by unreasonable people.
5. The metrics for innovation should be different than the regular metrics. Clayton Christensen said that the need to deliver numbers appears to be a major killer of innovation. The return on innovation is the difference between the return on new innovations and the deterioration of doing nothing.
6. The scope should be on the long term and not on achieving quarterly results.
7. People should be intrinsically motivated to innovate. A major driving force is their personal enthusiasm.
When these new rules are applied consistently they will become the new standard, also for the ‘business as usual’. As a matter of fact there will not be a business as usual anymore. Internal and external change is the major driving force in the (business) world today, which requires ongoing innovation.