Creativity and Innovation – Four Traps

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jan 08

In this final post in a series, we’ll look at the management and Cubicle Warrior traps associated with preaching innovation and creativity. It’s the next bit thing in business – and that means the potholes are numerous trying to implement this kind of a cultural change.

In my view, there are four traps to the mantra of innovation.

They are:

  1. Innovation must be a BIG thing. Corporations – and Cubicle Warriors – all think that the next big thing is the answer to all problems. And, it has to be big. The reality is that innovation is usually a group of small things put together – and usually after many failures. Corporations need to capture the small things as well as tolerate the failures as they lead to significant innovation.
  2. Innovation needs to be developed. Management teams constantly believe there is no creativity and innovation around their work groups. The reality is that there are ideas all around us and few of us, including management types, are very good at capturing the ideas and integrating the ideas into something that is workable.
  3. Innovation is captured effectively. Not only doesn’t management think there is a lot of creativity around us, but we think we capture the ideas as well. The reality, in my experience, is that ideas are put down by management and coworkers and are not captured so that they can be drawn upon for creative work. At best, we have a list somewhere that is written during a brainstorming session – and then is lost forever.
  4. Poor execution trumps innovation. You can have the best ideas, with the best creativity, with the best thought out products – and all are flushed down the toilet with poor execution. Great innovation is just as much about great execution of the planned deliverables as it is about coming up with the ideas in the first place. If you, your team, or your company is poor at executing plans, your innovative idea will never see the light of a profit statement.

These are just my ideas, of course. Every company is different and every person who works in cubes has a different perspective.

If you’ve tried to bring up ideas, have they been accepted by your management team and coworkers? How did you get your innovative idea past the bureaucracy?