Do “skunkworks” create corporate silos?

I just read an interesting article by John Winsor, a contributor to  The title of the article is

Don’t Put The Word ‘Innovation’ On Business Cards.

Here’s the link to the article.


The idea of the article - as I understand it - is that innovation 
centers, special innovation units, or skunk works creates a silo in a
company's culture. It's unfavorable because it breeds demotivation, 
and could create serious brain-drain if the company hits hard times
and the unit is disbanded or scaled back or if someone leaves the 
company. Instead, embed innovation throughout the entire company; 
don't isolate it.


While isolation and silo-type of culture could develop as a result of having an innovation special unit, it’s not a direct correlation. If it is happening, more likely it is a red flag that the innovation program is not working correctly.

Let me create an analogy between an innovation special unit and the Navy Seals. Both are agile groups that focus in on missions that are too tough for others to complete. Maybe others have tried and failed or no wants to try. These SEALS carry out their assigned missions and in the process, develop special operational strategy and tactics. Over time, these proven strategies and tactics can be systematized and processes can be developed for use throughout the organization. The SEALS take on the toughest problems and they encounter obstacles that develop and test their stamina, leadership and ability to work as a team.

Each successful mission builds the belief that these “impossible” missions are indeed possible and creates ‘best practice patterns’ for addressing difficult issues within the existing corporate culture. As the stories are told, people throughout the environment buy in to the likelihood of future successes and that is anti-silo activity and will “diffuse” innovative lessons throughout the organization.

Successful missions are intensely exciting and that draws people to the idea of these kinds of missions and teams rather than trying to push initiatives down onto people. That is the beauty of this practice. People do scratch their heads as they try and figure out how they can help. That’s what good leaders want: eager recruits rather than resistance and obstacles. As interest increases, more people are trained and the doctrine of innovation begins to spread.

If leaders are doing their jobs managing the innovation strategy through a business system – just like any other business system – then if one of the “Navy Seals” leaves, there will be multitudes of others who desire to step up, train rigorously, and become the best in the company – possibly in the world. This is like any other professional discipline deployed throughout the organization like marketing or engineering.

The skunk works strategy is not only a potential demotivator for an 
organization’s many other potential innovators, but it’s also risky 
from a very pragmatic perspective.

In my experience, innovators love to interact with other people who are interested in new ideas. Not everyone gets it, so it is exciting when someone is interested. Rather than demotivating, innovation creates a desire to step up to a whole new level of action and productivity. Successful innovation is inspiring.

[paraphrased] If the special unit does not pull in the same kind of 
revenue as other divisions...Poof — innovation might be removed from 
the company.

Our team was once hired by a Fortune 100 company for a series of entrenched, complex, seemingly-impossible “missions”. All of the “missions” succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations, which is typical with innovation projects if you are doing them correctly. Because the company was in the process of reorganization, every single outside consultant was dismissed – except three groups. Our group (because the ROI that we helped the company book was so staggeringly amazing, they needed us to keep helping them); the second group had a long-term contract that had to be paid whether they were there or not, so they stayed and worked until the contract ended, and the final group allowed to stay on was the group doing the actual reorganization. I’m not bragging here; I’m making a point: If your innovation special unit isn’t producing those kinds of wins and ROI, then you are not choosing the correct “missions”. And any group producing those kinds of wins and ROI are not going to be scaled back or shut down because they produce such amazing results and pay for themselves many times over.

[paraphrased] Another risk of brain-drain occurs when all of one-type 
of talent is consolidated into one group and people leave - then the
company loses.

If a company is raided or reorganized or downsized, there is always a brain-drain. In my experience, the people creating the kinds of results that innovators typically produce survive every reorganization. However, it’s true that they may leave. I have seen that happen. Just like in the Navy Seals, people leave. If you have created a strong, cohesive special unit, it will survive and continue to do important work. To never create a Navy Seal team because people might leave it is counterproductive. The doctrine, tactics, and strategies they developed can be passed on – just build the survival of the skill set into the unit’s mission.

The key is to embed innovation throughout all of the company... from 
the CEO to the receptionists...

Yes, to embed innovation throughout the company in a structured, systematic, and process-oriented way is the intended end game. The question is, how does your company get there?

The company culture may have a lot of momentum in a certain direction so it will probably take some time to affect that inertia. We all know what happens when a new “fad” comes down from on-high as a directive. The initiative usually lasts 3 to 5 years then it peters out. No amount of management will can overcome the resistance of employees who don’t want to change. They best way to change a culture is to make everyone want to enjoy the same kinds of successes that they are witnessing and maybe even participating in along the periphery. When the employees begin to ask management for those types of opportunities, that’s when you roll it out and embed it to become a core competency.  Of course, that’s only one possible path to the mountain.

Here’s the thing, there are many paths to the mountain so the secret is to use the way that works best with your company’s existing culture and infrastructure. Don’t fight it; use it!

Posted in Change Management, Common Innovator Characteristics, Company Code/Values, Dayna Blogs | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Innovation and the Theory of Change

I just read an interesting article by Kathleen Kelly Janus on the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The title of he article is

Demystifying the Theory of Change Process: Why the process of creating a theory of change matters, and a five-step guide to success.

Here’s the link to the article.


The idea is that nonprofits should develop a theory of change 
articulation because they powerfully and efficiently explain why 
programs will lead to strong, measurable results. Developing a 
theory of change really is a means of assuring that your 
organization is actually doing the right things in the right ways
and actually making a difference. The problem is that many 
organizations don’t do it well and many leaders struggle with the 
process. She gives five steps to help ensure that the process is 


Your five points will be useful for social innovators because those five points help “grease the skids” of change and because humans resist change for many reasons.

Social innovation is mostly about doing things differently – disrupting the status quo – creating change to make things better. But big change means big resistance to the social innovator’s plan. That’s why a theory of change process is useful. It may help the social innovator grasp the reality of the resistance they will face.

Many social innovators cannot tolerate this backlash and so they compromise their plans to make small changes – incremental changes over time to disrupt the resistance to their goals. The bad news is there will be a corresponding small benefit to be garnered. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about the dangers of gradualism, especially for social change.

Social innovators who start revolutionary organizations do need to understand that their achievements will likely have a non-linear developmental arc. They will have a tendency to make people uncomfortable. This will happen even when the new paradigm is more useful than the old one. (Stanford has a great article on Thomas Kuhn that goes into depth on this:

Because there is one thing for sure that all social innovators need to understand: Humans resist change even if it makes sense. Most of us cannot accept too much change right away; we wait and see what others think about it first. Or, we accept the social change in theory, but refuse to incorporate it because we do not see how the new paradigm will make our daily life better. Maybe it will cost too much effort. Maybe we’ll have to learn too many “new ways” and our lives are already full of other things that require attention.

This is why your five points are useful. They allow the social community to work together to battle the entrenched social habits. By working together, maybe a tipping point can be reached and it will ease the transition for all concerned.

The theory of change articulations will also illuminate the resistance the new revolutionary organization will face, because there will be hints of it exposed during the theory of change process. It will expose the personal power structure shifts, the new strategies, workloads, or knowledge bases that must be learned. It will expose where prestige will be lost and where criticism will fall. It exposes the areas that are not safe or comfortable.

The good news is there are ways to invent “inside the box” without falling back on gradualism. Your five points help social innovators prepare for entrenched resistance. That is so important.

As they create a road map for their internal and external stakeholders – experts, beneficiaries, donors, partners, and politicians – they will resist less and be more receptive to the changes events. This is what the new organization’s theory of change needs to address at a foundation level. The social innovator’s articulation of the change process needs to evolve in both a non-linear and linear path to move ahead so the bulk of their social community does not become disenfranchised.

Posted in Enter the Paradigm Shift | Leave a comment

Don’t Hesitate Wait, or Debate; Instead, Innovate

March through the Steps of Innovation

Global market
Need to compete
Outsource pressures
Slipping balance sheet.
Must differentiate
So, go innovate!
(Yeeeah, Innovate!)

This is today’s rallying cry. Businesses leaders intone it, government officials cantillate it, employees worry about it, and whole industries are moving to embrace it. We call it ‘innovation cheerleading’ because lots of people know innovation will help us compete, therefore they talk about it; but very few people know how to do it, so… they talk about it.

  • It is not enough to just speak about the importance of innovation.
  • It’s not enough to just generate lots and lots of ideas. Brainstorming is not the same as innovation.
  • And finally, it is not enough to just support innovation – this is critical to understand. Supporting innovation or creating an environment of innovation is nice to have but it is not necessary.

Innovation is produced by taking step-by-step action, by marching through a process that delivers results. Yes; there is a structured methodology for innovation, as counter-intuitive as that seems.

For some gifted few this process is instinctive and happens repeatably (Edison, G. Washington Carver, Eliza Murfey and Marion Donovan). For the vast majority, however, the act of innovation is like a lightning strike. It happens infrequently and below the surface of consciousness; therefore, there is no control and it is nearly impossible to manage.

As executives, we need innovation to become procedural within our organization. We need to schedule, track, and measure it. Once it is manageable it’s as useful as other business processes: cost reduction, Lean, optimization, new product development, inventory turns, and supply chain management. We need innovation to be repeatable, predictable, and positively impact our bottom line and align with our priorities.

Structured Innovation

During the past sixty years, experts have been studying the act-of-innovation from many perspectives: biologically, psychologically, socially, ethically, philosophically, procedurally, tool development, benchmarking, etc. We know quite a bit about problem-solving. Innovation actually has become structured.

We know that when “innovation lightning strikes” our brains are going through a common set-of-mental-steps. You see, innovation is procedural. And serial innovators understand that procedure on some level.

Much of the applied science of innovation has been devoted to chronicling and exploring these steps so they can be taught to others. Therefore, innovation can be teachable as well as predictable, measurable, and reliable.

A good analogy is a recipe. Once a chef’s mastery is documented in recipe-form it is considered repeatable by most cooks. Mathematics is also recognized as procedural, predictable, reliable, and teachable. Most people use math. We expect people to learn it. We make sure it is taught. (We don’t just lead cheers about how important it is.)

When Isaac Newton first created calculus in the 1680’s, he was just about the only person who could use it. Today high school students routinely learn and use calculus. That’s because they have been taught the step-by-step procedures of calculus. Do you remember which teacher taught you the procedural steps for innovation? Me neither; because we’re not taught innovation. And yet, the science of innovation has been developed to the degree that it can be taught and applied.

When the methodology of invention is learned – just like math is taught – problem-solvers can resolve issues on-demand. Tools such as Structured Innovation, TRIZ or decision-making software can be applied to start a problem-solving project or program.

  • There are innovation tools for value creation;
  • There are innovation tools for failure analysis;
  • There are innovation tools for risk-prediction;
  • There are innovation tools for get more out of “fully-optimized situations”;
  • There are innovation tools for managing the competition.


Be the first to embrace innovation. Almost any individual can learn the structure (whether they are left-brained thinkers or right-brained). Teams can be taught to innovate. Structured Innovation can be used to manage culture and organizational change.

Once innovation becomes procedural (structured) within an organization, it can be scheduled, tracked, and measured – it becomes predictable. Once it is predictable it is manageable – just like other business processes such as cost reduction, inventory turns, or supply chain management.

When employees learn the step-by-step procedures of innovation they can constantly add value to their employers: invent products/strategies that dominate global competition, improve processes, align strategy with company culture and more. With innovation as a core competency, every level of team and individual contribution can take repeatable actions that positively impact the marketplace and are in-line with priorities.

We already know innovation is important. It’s time to move from cheerleading to action. First create one innovation team to work across departments and book a few big wins right away. Then set up small training programs in critical areas of the company. The methodology will propagate adding value – adding value, adding value, adding relevance.

Posted in Dayna Blogs, Inventive-Level Problem Solving, Structured Innovation | Leave a comment

Why Safety Professionals need to go beyond being the Squeaky Wheel

Sandy Smith wrote an article for titled, “Former President of Chemical Company Sentenced for Federal Crimes Related to Employee Deaths“. This in turn caused , a safety professional,  to write the following comment:

“As Safety Professionals we have to be the squeaky wheel. We have understand how to communicate the consequences of bad /unsafe actions to the next level leadership. The people that follow us are counting on it.”

And he is absolutely correct. I really do not want to short-sell the importance of the constant drum beat regarding safety, but that is just the first step for safety. It is a countermeasure rather than a solution. So much more is needed.

In our safety book co-authors Brion K. Hanks and Scott Burr join me in saying, “In regards to the unspoken cold war between production and safety, we have noticed that some industry leaders are expending enormous amounts of activity with relatively minor new achievement. Safety as a discipline needs an upgrade and a reboot. The result of this delusion (that activity equals achievement) is that people are routinely hurt and killed on the job…
…One of the reasons we succumb to trading-off safety for schedule or profits is because management and ‘designers’ throw problems over the wall instead of taking full accountability for what they create. All of this ‘tossing off of responsibility’ lands squarely on the worker in the field in bad weather with pressures and dangers all around. This is the worst place to try and solve problems that should have been solved upstream….” Safety needs to be more systematic.

Here’s one more point. Safety professional often rely on OSHA or other safety inspections as the great countermeasure to unsafe situations. But this needs to change. “Inspections can detect mistakes only after they have been generated (or when they are in the process of being made). Inspections are not predictive. They are not systematically integrated into decision-making and they are not scientific. They catch infractions; but don’t stop hazards from being created in the first place. They are better than nothing, but mistakes will be made because there are not enough inspectors to be everywhere at all times and no human can be 100-percent vigilant… Inspections will not assure that your workers are safe. In fact, inspections are the lowest form of assurance that can be provided. In order for inspections to be effective, they would have to be constant, omnipresent, vigilant, and redundant. But they are not constant; they cannot be omnipresent; and it is too costly to be 100-percent vigilant and redundant… Because inspections are countermeasures they are an ongoing cost. However, if you generate real safety solutions this savings is the money that you get back from that investment. If you develop these solutions it helps your company be more efficient and will keep your workers safer.”

Along the same lines, speaking up, “whistle blowing”, sounding off about safety issues is important. In fact, it’s vital! And I applaud you because you have the courage of a lion and your heart is in the correct place. Having said that, it is a tiny part of what safety professionals can be doing today. Most people are entrenched in the belief that safety is in the way of production and that is simply not true. Industries need to completely change their mindset.

I dislike it when people come on forums and promote there products or services, but in this case I’m going to break my own rule and suggest you read the book “Safety Under Construction*”. It explains how you can get more done by working safer. In fact, the book explains the needed change in mindset and habits so that safety is THE KEY (the leverage point) for greater construction profits and schedule performance (re-tweet this).

Go forth and be safe and productive all at the same time.

* I’m one of the authors so I hope it’s not too tacky that I mentioned it. I wouldn’t have mentioned the book at all except the topics are so perfectly aligned and I wanted to add a few quotes from the book to contribute to the discussion.

Posted in Dayna Blogs, Safety, Systems POV | Tagged | Leave a comment

Tinkering is good; but it is not necessarily innovation

Bruce Kasanoff (from Opportunity Shaper, Now Possible) just wrote a blog article called, “Why Tinkering Around is the Key to Success” It’s on linkedin.

He starts the article this way,

“Here is a quick way to judge whether your company will continue to be successful: can you tell your CEO that you spent the morning tinkering around with an idea? If the answer is yes, you are in good shape. If no, start looking for another job.
Successful companies know that the path to innovation isn’t a straight line. Profitable growth is a messy, roller-coaster process that involves almost as many setbacks as victories. If you succeed in everything you do, you aren’t aiming nearly high enough.
I get frustrated when companies talk and talk and talk about innovation, while simultaneously making it nearly impossible for their employees to tinker around. Tinkering is what drives innovation, not talking.”

 There is much that I agree with in Bruce Kasanoff’s article, but there are some big disagreements as well. In the spirit of lively conversation, here are my comments:

Bruce Kasanoff, you are correct. There are a few reasons why tinkering is so valuable: (1). You allow your brain to enter another state of being – it’s not linear, driven, goal-oriented. If you learn to recognize that “creative/tinkering” brain-state then you can enter it more easily and on-demand. The ability to move into and out of states-of-being is very valuable for serial innovators. You need to learn to develop that skill if you want to innovate reliably. (2). Developing your persistence ‘muscle’ is also vital to innovators because innovation generally takes effort and you cannot cave-in at the first obstacle. There are lots of reasons why innovators need to persist. It is a basic characteristic of great serial innovators.

Having said that, I think the reasons that “people miss your point” is that you state a few opinions too adamantly and apply your opinion too broadly. For example, you state, “Successful companies know that the path to innovation isn’t a straight line. Profitable growth is a messy, roller-coaster process that involves almost as many setbacks as victories. If you succeed in everything you do, you aren’t aiming nearly high enough.” Well, this can be true, but doesn’t have to be true. It is not a universal “Truth” about innovation. It is only a seemingly true point in certain situations. Innovation certainly CAN happen in a straight line.

The more you know what you are trying to achieve and the greater facility you have with your innovation process, the more direct your path to an inventive solution will probably be. Straight is good, too, just as tinkering is good.

Profitable growth does NOT have to be messy or involve many setbacks. If you succeed in everything you do, that does NOT mean you are not aiming high enough. What it can mean is that you are aiming really high and you will persist until you succeed and you will get there without a lot of setbacks because you understand your innovation process. Innovation is developing into an applied science; it’s much better understood than when Edison tried a 1000 times to develop the light bulb. You can still invent using a “messy, setback-rich” way, but you do not have to.

Tinkering is great! But so is driving straight to a solution. Tinkering is not the only path to real, breakthrough, unique, mind-blowing, paradigm-shattering invention.

The author also says that sometimes companies “abhor the idea of tinkering around with a product, service or process. To them, it sounds amateurish…” so be it. If that is your company, embrace it. Innovation DOES NOT need a special kind of environmental support system to work. It is not very useful to rail against imposed constraints. Innovation is a process inside a human head. That is all you need. I guarantee it!

If your company does not support tinkering then innovate another method to produce inventive progress. Do it in a non-tinkering manner. Do it in a way that the company will value. Use the constraints of the system to help you. If you have a methodology for innovation (yes it is an oxymoron), then the constraints within your environment will actually help you invent better, more useful, cost-efficient, timely, and impactful solutions.

Posted in Common Innovator Characteristics, Company Code/Values, Constraints, Dayna Blogs, Inventive-Level Problem Solving | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

When does continual improvement actually begin?

A Quality Assurance Manager asked, “When does continual improvement actually begin?“. Here was my response:

It begins in the minds of each worker the second they begin to work. It begins in the hearts of a leader (whether they be employee or manager) the instant they accept responsibility to make things better.

You see, every single employee develops work momentum the more they perform their job. They improve their processes so they can do a better job (or the same job) with less effort. This is the nature of our brains. Human brains love resource efficiency. Since every single employee will be “continuously improving” their work, it’s management’s job to make sure that those “improvement” benefit the company and not just the employee.

The first time someone develops or defines a metric for improvement and that metric is accepted, then that may be the start of an OFFICIAL improvement plan. The improvement continues as long as there is someone to work on it. (Although my husband left his employer years ago, he still offers CI suggestions to his old employer much to their profit and chagrin.)

Bottom line: CI begins when any employee accepts responsibility.

Posted in Common Innovator Characteristics, Dayna Blogs, Process/System Improvement | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What Serial Innovators Know about Fear

Judith E. Glaser blogged at the Huffington Post, “Innovate or Evaporate”

This is a good article about innovation (click on her name above to read the whole article, it’s good) but I have one disagreement her statements about fear limiting innovation. In a nutshell she says, “When fear ‘owns our brains’ we cannot think creatively… All we think about is how to protect ourselves.”

There are indeed processes that happen consistently within the human brain. We have responses to inputs that travel in ‘ruts’ or along strong synapse paths. In these cases inputs create a cascade of reactions. Fear can cause a cascade of reactions that does indeed ‘close down’ the creative parts of our brain and get us stuck in protection mode. But, and this is a big ‘but’, it doesn’t need to. A person can train their brain to respond differently to fear – interrupt the cascade – deflect the automatic response – and react more usefully and creatively. Serial innovators train themselves to be able to change states.

I used to teach martial arts to children, very young children (the pee-wees, we called them) and some students diagnosed with attention disorders and behavioral issues. What we instructors learned over time was that the absolutely most important two things to teach children are the traits of being grateful/respectful and the ability to change states at a moment’s notice. It took a lot of time to develop in some of these kids that ability to change states, but once they had it, it changed their lives. 100% of the time, it changed their lives.

I also taught self defense to traumatized women.  And there were only three foundational things to learn. One of them was the ability to change states upon demand.

After a decade + of being a professional innovator, I now know that one of the best traits, behaviors, characteristics, and/or mindsets serial innovators must possess is the ability to change states. We face fear at the beginning of every single project. We never have an idea of how we are going to solve it. There is no path into that solution or that future. No one has gone there before. That is why innovation is needed. Courage to begin and courage to persist in the face of fear is necessary. Every time we begin to innovate, we shift from a fear state to a more creative state.  That is part of the process – an important part of the process. That cascade of response happens in the brain just as surely as the cascade of responses created by fear.  In fact, it is one of the ‘addictive’ aspects of the innovation process.  Let me end with a quote, which is an analogy:

“Fairy tales do not tell children dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” – G.K. Chesterton

This is what serial innovators know.

Posted in Common Innovator Characteristics, Dayna Blogs, Inventive-Level Problem Solving | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 of my favorite quotes from Genrich Altshuller, the father of TRIZ

Here are two quotes from the father of TRIZ. I think they get to the heart of what TRIZ is.
“I became more and more interested in the mechanics of creativity. How were
inventions made? What happens in the head of the inventor?” – Genrich Altshuller

“Although people who had achieved a great deal in science and technology talked
of the inscrutability of creativity, I was not convinced and disbelieved them immediately and without argument. Why should everything but creativity be open
to scrutiny? What kind of process can this be which unlike all others is not subject
to control?…What can be more alluring than the discovery of the nature of
talented thought and converting this thinking from occasional and fleeting flashes
into a powerful and controllable fire of knowledge.” – Genrich Altshuller

Posted in Dayna Blogs, TRIZ | Tagged | Leave a comment

What are some of the most effective tools that you have used to prevent repeatable defects in a manufacturing plant?

A Quality, Safety and CIP  Manager asked, “What are some of the most effective tools that you have used to prevent repeatable defects in a manufacturing plant? We are trying to improve our FPY but continue with inconsistent results.” Scott’s and my response was:

Great leaps in quality come when you can characterize the process and understand what key factors lead to successful quality outcomes. It’s all about the process.

Do you understand your process? Is is stable and in control? All of these activities you have named are tools (final inspections, TQC’s and checklists) but what is the process? Do you have control of the key factors. Do you know what key activators are creating your defects? When you can answer these questions you will be on your way to predicting your defects – and then eliminating them.

If your process is already stable and in control then you need a person with a Lean Six Sigma background to help you characterize the process. If your process is not stable and in control then you need to start with Lean and standardize the process first.

And then, if you really want to blow defects out of the water you can use Structured Innovation in conjunction to Lean Six Sigma and jump to a whole new level of productivity, quality, and process improvement.

Posted in Dayna Blogs, Lean, Process/System Improvement, Quality, Scott Burr, Six Sigma | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Innovation can be mapped to any culture

I just read a blog by Pearl Zhu at at her blog . She says

Maintaining a culture of innovation in an ongoing and sustainable way requires: Openness because innovation comes from a combination of need and culture of being open to new things; and Playfulness  because innovation comes from the environment in which thinking & experimenting is stimulated, and Adaptability because innovation is the collective capability to adapt to changes and Adaptability is key; and Flexibility because healthy process for innovation goes between flexibility and hard process; and finally, Agility because innovation efforts work best when focused through fast, rapid cycles to shape and test solutions.

Here is my response to this list:

I like what Ms. Zhu says about “innovation involves the collective capability to adapt to changes – adaptability is key.” The ability to continuously assess the situation is vital. Persistence, resilience, courage: these are all important characteristics. Also, cross-pollination is critical.

But I have to argue quite strenuously with several ideas.

  • There is no need for flatter organizational structures. Innovation works in any environment.
  • Innovators need resiliency because they need to persist in the face of additional problems and resistance, but not because they will fail repeatedly. Innovations should always be successful. If they are not successful, it means the innovator did not anticipate the problems they were going to meet and that is a basic fundamental of innovation projects.
  • Also, a culture of innovation does NOT need to be developed from the top down. It’s good if it is, but certainly not necessary. We have helped one low-level individual change a whole company. It took 8 years to develop the change momentum (which did engage more and more people as time went on), but the company now is much more competitive and successful due to his change-vision.
  • And finally, I do not agree with the need for speed. If your company culture needs speed, then you are correct in saying that “fast, rapid cycles to shape and test solutions is important.” But if you have a different culture, innovation needs to match that. There are thousands of slow-moving, reliability-based companies that create breakthroughs every day.  In fact, think about the greatest prison breaks throughout history. They were all inventive, usually slow to manifest, in tough and resistant environments, against great odds and with many constraints – and certainly without top-down approval or support.

The great thing about innovation is no matter what the environment, no matter how entrenched (fossilized) the situation, no matter how much resistance abounds or constraints limit you, no matter what the culture is, no matter WHAT… innovation can produce results.

The important point in all of this is that innovation can be mapped to any culture. While it’s not a mistake to map the culture to innovation, that is only one way to succeed. Ms. Zhu’s ideas about her five points are correct for certain environments and in specific situations, but not at all necessary for everyone. Any culture can embrace and accept innovation and they can do it on their own terms.

Posted in Change Management, Common Innovator Characteristics, Dayna Blogs | Tagged , , | Leave a comment