Why Innovation Makes us Crazy


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A tale of two organizations.

When I proposed setting up an innovation council in one organization, the COO said what amounted to, “Keep me out of this.”

With the other organization, I helped create and deploy an internal innovation review, to identify the innovation promoters and inhibitors. What happened? The marketing director got upset. HR got bent out of shape. Business development had a cow.

What’s going on here?

The problem is, everyone likes the idea of innovation, but many people are scared to death of the practice. If you are a COO, your job is to create order out of the bureaucratic tangle. If you’re a marketing or HR director, you’re judged by how well you control and manage the aspects you’re hired to handle.

So why did these people freak out? Because when I proposed unleashing a storm of new ideas from both inside and outside the organization, they weren’t controlling the conversation anymore.

Innovation is by nature disruptive. It creates discord, and introduces potential failure all over the place. If your mission is to keep control of things, a drive to innovation appears to threaten your very existence.

The term cognitive dissonance describes the discomfort the brain feels when it’s forced to embrace two conflicting ideas. Innovation fosters chaos, or at least discord and messiness. The managerial imperative is to create order and control. Try to keep both things in your head at once, and it’ll make you crazy.

Needless to say, I’m a fan of unleashing the incredible power of new possibilities, even if it does make us crazy at times.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Thompson Morrison
Thompson Morrison has spent the last couple of decades figuring out how companies can listen better. Before co-founding FUSE, Mr. Morrison was Managing Director of AccessMedia International (AP), a consulting firm that provides strategic market analysis for the IT industry. His clients included Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, IBM, and Vignette.


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