Last Updated on 28 January 2013

This cartoon by amazing marketing cartoonist Tom Fishburne and my headline – a quote from Jason Fox @LeeClowsBeard sums up why many companies are failing at innovation.

It is amazing to see the solutions teams think-up in brainstorming/strategy sessions.

The team arrived at the meeting space bright and early with doubt and challenges.
After a long – at times stressful – day of working the brain, our meeting comes to a close… Our results look like the illustration. Loads of ideas…and good ones too! There are at least 10 solutions on the board that will literally transform the company they were thought up for. (And we only needed one!)

The day concludes with confidence and solutions!

But then… this odd thing happens… sometime between wrapping up the meeting and showing up for work the next day. Just as Tom has depicted, ideas get trash talked when we’re back at our desks. Innovative ideas get quashed.

But why?

Do doubts set in? Was it groupthink that caused the strategy team to be so excited? Were people pretending they liked the ideas just to make the day go smoother? Are they afraid to be the ones to suggest change and “rock the boat?”

New ideas can be scary. New ideas – especially innovative ones – mean you’ll be doing somethings differently at your company. This makes people nervous. Especially those who were not in the strategy session to see how all this proposed fancy change came about!

Is my role changing? I’m good at what I currently do? If we do it that way, does that mean my job goes away? This new idea is much better than the way I’m doing it now? Will this make me redundant?

Employee concern for job security and the status quo (driven by poor leadership support) is what kills 98% of potential innovation at our organizations. This is where the quote/headline comes into play…

Champions Needed

Idea are indeed only as fragile as the backbones behind them.

When we strategize with clients we enforce a “Be The Champion” stage in the process. We acknowledge the fear and how others may perceive risk. Change can be scary. Change is a big deal. Some companies have entire change management divisions. Other companies embrace change as part of their culture and success formula.

Champions are idea advocates, ambassadors, promoters supporters, defenders, backers and crusaders!

Be the backbone for ideas! Supporting them until they have the strength to stand on their own.

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