The work of innovative thinkers is why the world has smartphones, laptop computers, toaster ovens, and numerous other gadgets and creative approaches to problem solving.
Yet groundbreaking ideas aren’t always welcome in the corporate world or within other institutions.
Instead, those who suggest a different approach often find their ideas shot down by co-workers or blocked by an organizational system that is unwelcoming to change, says international speaker and innovation consultant Dr. Neal Thornberry.
That doesn’t mean innovation can’t happen, though.
“The innovator needs to know how to operate in these less than friendly cultures without waiting for some miraculous transformation in corporate policy,” says Thornberry, author of the book Innovation Judo: Disarming Roadblocks and Blockheads on the Way to Creativity. He believes there are five innovation “killers” within organizations that a person with ideas can expect to confront.
For example: People.
Sometime it’s an individual, sometimes it’s a group. Regardless, people often resist innovation, and many times for illogical reasons. “The more rigid people reject innovation simply because they are uncomfortable with the new or don’t want to spend the energy to try something different,” Thornberry says. They may be quick to point out flaws in your ideas.
One way to counteract that, Thornberry says, is to be your own worst critic. Discover those flaws first and highlight them yourself. Then you can address how you plan to mitigate them, thus stealing the critics’ thunder, he says.
Politics. You can usually get around one or two individuals who try to block your idea, but it’s more challenging when the organization is rife with politics. “I hate working in highly politicized organizations,” Thornberry says. “They make work a lot harder and make you spend considerable time on non-value-adding activities.” In fact, Thornberry devotes an entire chapter in his book to “Right Mindedness” so that innovators practicing his seven secret judo skills are not seen as innovating for personal gain or exploitation, but as enablers of company success.
Photo by Christian Battaglia
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