The instinctive fear of all that is new
Similar to a herd of animals which is following the leader, the acceptance of new, different ways of thinking is still very little accepted in companies. Thinking outside the box and listening to topics that may not be immediately understood still needs to be improved. In my opinion this is an innovation killer, especially in industries that are generally regarded as “boring” or less capable of innovation.
According to media reports it seems to be an endless boom – no matter where you look publications are mega-digital, everyone is so innovative, has several digital experts and is up-to-date to meet all challenges. There is hash-tagging everywhere and solely the existence of a hashtag qualifies to win the next creativity award. Just a side note: I know several managers in companies that still don’t know what this is about.
What’s the reason behind?
Nowadays business leaders and department managers tend to take challenges more or less politically. Fixed structures that grow exponential according to the company‘s size are of course not easy to change.
But this is exactly the conclusion: It’s not enough to glorify people like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs etc. and quote them as iconic figures for innovation. You have to have the guts to run against the mainstream or at least allow new ideas and ignore yesterday’s iron rules.
How does “bringing the outside in” help us?
One of the major rules is the question “What do the others do”. This requires courage since companies picture themselves mostly at the top of their own branch.
There is a tendency to talk arrogantly about the “others” and/or principally reject what others do.
You can only learn if you are open minded
Open means: listening closely and understanding the underlying philosophy. Seeing how others do and why it has positive impacts. Accepting, that there may be better approaches and being glad to act among the top players.
Just as a marginal note: I have been playing electric-guitar since I was 13 years old. I always had the ambition to learn from others. When I see another excellent guitarist on stage I study his way of playing the guitar and try to learn from him.
But you might hardly believe – during all these years when I was on stage myself I saw many other guitarists watching me with crossed arms. It wasn’t about looking at something to learn but it was either jealousy, competitiveness or arrogance: for sure, these are no attitudes which takes you a step forward.
Anticipate – The alignment with your own reality
It is, of course, not only looking what others do. It is important and a further precondition for chances of success to transfer ideas in the reality of your own corporate structures. Only then it does become apparent whether your idea will work in your own “cosmos”. Many things might work while being adapted to the own structures and will help to be more efficient, faster and more satisfied. Other things work well in other structures, but not in your own company.
Implementation – The rocky road to accomplish your goals
Optimally, most consultants will show you a possibility to achieve your goal. However, the success of new strategies depends on their implementation. Therefore, a key factor that should never be underestimated, are the people who are finally responsible for the implementation, often in lower hierarchical levels. They have to make sure that the “clever” concepts hit reality. It appears to be often something that is an excessive demand for the responsible team. Frustration may turn up from several directions: Either conceptional ideas have not been transferred properly or were not yet mature and have to be adapted many times or …
Strategy – Communication is the trump card
.…the communication-strategy hasn’t simply been integrated. Change Management is a big buzzword… In fact I often encountered the situation that this has not been included in the budget plan. At least, this was the primary argument when people complain about missing support.
This reverts back to the beginning: The instinctive fear of all that is new. Each tool, every application, any kind of new digital workflow mechanisms requires an agenda and a communication-strategy. It is not enough to introduce changes without a clear communication to employees, where these changes will lead and why they are important.
“Do good, but make sure others know about it”. That old saying actually contains everything. With this in mind: Get the people involved by telling them why there are changes. Communicate it positively and be aware that it will take a while to be understood.