Beware the Innovation Killers

“All too often the act of the innovator, that stroke of genius, is in spite of the company system, not because of the company system.”

– Craig Wynett, Chief Innovation Officer, Procter & Gamble

Alan Murray blogged today in the Wall Street Journal that management is dead. Within hours Tom Peters tweeted: “Guarantee: Hierarchy will NEVER disappear. Period. Take it to the bank.”

I think they’re both right.   Of course, people have been talking about the power of creative destruction and blowing up hierarchies to foster engagement, collaboration, and innovation for years. Whether unintentional or flat-out malicious, the enemies of innovation include:

  • The Bureaucrat: builds consistency, and sets limits to ensure rule adherence. Favorite quotes: “Fill out this form.” and “That’s not in this budget cycle.”
  • The Totem-poler: resource-blocker and creativity killer. Favorite quotes: “Has this been approved?” or “We tried that before without success.”
  • Deadbeat sponsor: project champion lacking attention, interest, or clout. Favorite quotes: “Can you rework the business plan on this?” “Let’s study this some more”
  • Power-monger: power and resources are more important than results. Favorite quotes: “I’ve already thought of that” “We’re already building that in our group”
  • Chicken-little: paranoid scarcity-mindset. Favorite quotes: “We can’t afford that.” “Hope you can do that with your own people”

True innovation supporters and collaborators are generous, encouraging, and inspiring. Stay close to the real McCoy.