Nine Rules for Stifling Innovation

Innovation has become the holy grail. Finding innovation is almost a sacred quest for the solution that will create growth, and open new eras of prosperity and well-being. Unfortunately, like many things called holy, the concept of innovation is invoked ritually and ceremonially more than it is embraced in practice.

As author Rosabeth Moss Kanter legitimately argues, for all the talk about innovation, many leaders in numerous organizations actively stifle it. The following list includes nine types of conduct that guarantee that little or no innovation will ever happen:

  • Being suspicious of any new idea from below;
  • Invoking history (e.g. if a new idea comes up for discussion, find a precedent in a an earlier idea that didn’t work, remind everyone of that bad past experience);
  • Keeping people really busy (e.g. if people seem to have free time, load them with more work);
  • Encouraging cut-throat competition in the name of excellence;
  • Stressing predictability above all (e.g. count everything that can be counted, and do it as often as possible);
  • Confining discussion of strategies and plans to a small circle of trusted advisors. Then announcing big decisions in full-blown form.
  • ▪Acting as though punishing failure motivates success;
  • Blaming problems on the incompetent people below —if that doesn’t undermine self-confidence, it will undermine faith in anyone else’s ideas.
  • Believing that being at the top means knowing everything there is to know about the business.

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