What Limits Innovation and Why It Is So Hard to Change Those Things

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

What Limits Innovation and Why It Is So Hard to Change Those Things

Robert Tanner posted Ten Organizational Practices That Limit Innovation. I like the list. Here is my comment to him.

Robert – I like the list of ten things to avoid. I found myself nodding my head in agreement. I work with resistance to change in organizations, and as I look at the list, I see potentially very strong resistance from leaders to changing those things. It seems to me that your list describes a command and control culture. Those types of cultures don’t happen by accident. My guess is that those cultures reflect some pretty deep seated beliefs about people. For instance, leaders can’t trust others to make good decisions; therefore, they feel that they need rigid hierarchy to “ensure” that decisions get made and that people do what they are supposed to do.
If I were working with clients and they were interested in changing the list, I would invite them to look deeply at what the values are behind that list and identify what they would lose if they changed their culture. For example, loss of power, loss of control, loss of certainly. Without addressing those fundamental immunities to change (to borrow a phrase from Kegan and Lahey) they are not likely to foster an innovative culture.

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