Employee engagement is at crisis levels in some companies – sure, maybe your people show up physically (or perhaps not, depending on your telecommute policies) but do they show up mentally? Are they willing to give their maximum effort to your company for what you are paying them, or are they just going through the motions and phoning in their job, waiting to jump to the next company that they may be more interested in (don’t worry, there are only a few of those, so chances are low).
A common refrain that I hear from individuals at some of the companies that we’ve worked with in the past (and some prospects who ultimately decide not to work with us) is that we are experts at generating ideas, but most of those ideas simply do not have a business model – which is, of course, a fancy way of saying “we can’t figure out how to make any money with this idea”.
Ah, failure. Are there still people out there who feel that it is a bad thing? I know of very few cases where, barring a life and death struggle, failure does not produce a positive effect. Failure does teach, and it teaches a great lesson.
Everything that we’ve come up with will happen. We just don’t know when.
I’ve said before many times that the biggest issue with being a futurist is that you are a lot like a weatherperson – usually right, but at the wrong time. Another corollary to that is that everything that has been imagined happening, within reason, will happen, and the only question is when.
Having been in the innovation business all of my career and for the last 15 years as a professional innovator, I’ve seen my share of resistance to innovation. Most of the time, individuals within internal innovation groups within organizations are typically pretty innovative, they spend time pushing forward-thinking products and services forward within the organization. In some cases, however, especially in staid, older organizations without a strong innovation culture, even folks in the innovation group themselves can put up a fight when it comes to breakthrough ideas. Even in some organizations which are tied down by market forces or regulatory burden, there’s still a need to experiment.
Change in surroundings lead to a change in thought
What do they call it when expert after expert proves beyond a doubt that something exists and is roundly agreed to be the case, but is then summarily ignored, even though the findings are real and true?
Do you, like most, have a bias for short-term results?
I love Scott Adams and Dilbert – he perfectly encapsulates some of the incredible silliness of corporate work and life – and like all great humor, contains enough truth to sting. The other day, I was especially struck by the last panel in a running joke about Wally being selected to be mentored by the CEO. As it happens, Wally, being Wally, has been mentored for a week and has not improved at all. The CEO, worried that this will look bad (he can’t win, he either appears to hire crappy people or can’t mentor anyone successfully) is in discussion with the HR Director (Catbert) about this, deciding that to save face, he will need to promote Wally. To which Catbert says “That might be a bad idea in the long run”. In the final panel, the CEO says:
Stress and conflict can be a good thing.
One of the key things that I’ve seen is that is quite common among truly innovative new ideas is that they can sometimes make people feel uncomfortable. This discomfort ranges from a mild creepiness all the way to outrage and pure hatred, leading to protests and lobbying for you to be shut down (see Uber, almost anywhere there is a strong taxi union, colluding with the city government).
People Always Say, “That Will Never Happen To Us”
Can we all finally agree that life is change, and there is no such thing as a steady state? If we can do that, then it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for you to also agree that if life is change, then change is inevitable? If change is inevitable, is there any reason to think that your core business is immune to change? That its immune to new threats, new competitors, new startups and other disruptive forces which, like a Black Swan, swoop in out of the blue with no warning?
Your innovation labs existential question: which idea is the billion-dollar idea?
After possible years of not providing any kind of systematized institutional method of capturing, collecting, reviewing, voting on, providing feedback on, and deciding on the fate of an idea, innovation labs are usually swamped with ideas once an effective program is launched.