Excuse Me .. You Have Something on Your Face..

J-DuB asks– How do we fix the problem of people SAYING they want to INNOVATE and DOING nothing BUT Innowasting Time & Effort?InnovationToday.jpgBeginInnovation.jpg

Good question sir.. today I am going to talk a little about innovation in plain speak for people who “get it” but don’t “get it” or really don’t “want it.”

Crazy post..?? Yup..:

Dear Leadership,

You asked me to tell you what we could do better.  You told me that I am important and that I matter to the organization, yet.. when I answered you.. (*sniff*) You smacked my words away as if they were an annoying nat buzzing around your ear.  You called me to sit and listen to your two-hour talk about needing to blah, blah, blah-ovate and blah, blah, belm-ovate.  Does this sound familiar?

You are not only our workforce of today!  You are our workforce of tomorrow.  We… no.. I am counting on you to help take our company into the future.   We are facing new challenges with budget constraints and time, and customer issues and..

…it is critical that we crowd-source our best practice lessons learning into a web service (SOA) offering that cloud enables our capabilities to perform predictive analytics on BIG data!  We are leaning forward and all pulling in the same direction.   I need you.. your thoughts .. your ideas.. WE NEED TO INNOVATE.. **pant.. pant..pant**

As I look into the crowd… **pause** (looking forward) I see our best and brightest!   I see the future and the future is YOU!   I need to know what I can do to make things better for you!  I need to know what I can do to ENABLE you!


Sir.. remember when I raised my hand?  Do you remember when I said ” we know how to help and we will help if you let us?”  What happened?

Where did you go when you stepped down off the podium?  Where are you now?  We needed to tell  you that you have something hanging from your nose and it is not pleasant to look at.   Oh, no it isn’t something disgusting and physically embarrassing.  It is worse than that sir.  It is an untruth.


Your Staff 

Leaders: Yes, Something is ON YOUR FACE

It is really a shame, all that energy and potential just sitting in a box (cube), ready to explode out and create.

Trim a tree but do it well and it will grow and blossom! It can be shaped, it can be bounded and it could be beautiful.

This untruth is bold and clear, it is not hidden and that is why we can say that it is on their faces.  We all know it’s there but we play pretend like we don’t see it.  It is that organizational leaders are far removed from the thick of the work.  They tend to the sheep through the spreadsheet and the Powerpoint.  The problem is that today our generation x’rs and the millennial workforce that is taking hold of business doesn’t tolerate this behavior.  They were told that each and every person can make a difference.  They were told that they individually are special.  They believe in taking action and they believe in being empowered.  I can tell you that I have seen and heard stories (over and again) on how the workforce is changing.  The costs associated with ignoring this truth is astronomical.  It can and in some cases will put businesses out of business.

There are many dynamics to this but the key here is (TRUST).   Trust and honesty the fundamental core of credibility.  When leaders are telling stories and lies in plain sight, it destroys and diminishes the ability of the organization to move in one direction.  It becomes a bounded box supercharged with shards of fragmented people pulling in multiple directions.   Well, it is bounded.. cause umm .. some people still have to work, they just aren’t as motivated and maybe they are looking elsewhere for something that they aren’t finding back at the ranch.

What the.. does this have to do with innovation?

Before you innovate, you have to motivate.   It is that simple and that clear.Findx2013.jpg

Process List:

  1. Motivate ✓ – Help people find PURPOSE.  Understand the truth about the organization.(Who are we and what do we do?, What did we do?, Why we don’t do dat anymore?)
  2. Share (OUR) Purpose✓ We have been in this business for 10,000 years selling caveman clubs.. but ya know… people don’t want clubs anymore to bonk stuff, they want clubs to smack balls in tiny little holes on a beautiful grass field.   We are changing our business!!! We are going sell small exotic metal clubs to make people happy!  (Our purpose is to make people happy!!)
  3.  Share the mission✓Be honest now.. what are we really doing?
  4.  Share the vision✓ How are we going to get there?  Oh.. you don’t know and you want help to figure that out? (more to come on this below)
  5.  Share the scope of work✓
  6. Share the objectives✓
  7. Tell the story of where we are now and why things are changing and why things have to change✓ (How about a little ownership on change?  How about you tell me that I have a stake in this and that I can help make things better?)
  9. Ahh that’s enough .. you are probably bored.. 

Ok.. so now I have said what needs to happen but we all know that it doesn’t happen this way.  We know that leaders are afraid of the truth.   We know that they are afraid of change.  We know that large companies are changing all the time but big changes happen like tectonic plates smashing into each other.   To shape a large corporation quickly, big things have to happen.   That is the reason innovation doesn’t jive well in large organizations.

SO, how do some companies get around it?

Well, there is a saying in our industry called “guerrilla IT”  it happens in organizations when the superusers go rogue and duplicate or create new technologies to support themselves.  Companies were against it for a long time, until recently.  They figured out that people will take care of themselves and those around them on behalf of the company.  In a lot of cases, they will do it out of their own pockets.  (BYOD anyone??)means bring your own device, if you aren’t cool and into the new lingoes.

Say What?.. innovation is the same thing.. people are innovating all the time.  They are just doing it in secret.  They are doing it in pockets of space between tasks and they are doing it at home.   When they bring their innovative ideas to the workplace, if they have autonomy there is no problem.  Of course, someone may find out later but  …  the difference is that people will do what they enjoy regardless of what the leadership in the company says.  What leadership needs to understand is that if they don’t help people find purpose and help them align their motivation to the organization, their innovators may be just innovating for themselves.  That means they become some cost to the organization that really can’t be accounted for.


We can certainly talk more about this topic but I am making a few points here. Doesn’t look that great so far … BUT


First,  leaders need to face the truth about what they really want. Specifically in terms of the health and well-being of their company relative to the risk they are willing to take on by ignoring their true innovative catalysts.  Once they figure out what they want, they need to be honest and build trust with their staff by becoming “ENABLERS” and “SERVANT LEADERS.”


Second, leaders need to face this little reality (people will innovate whether adjacent, transformational, break through, sustained, disruptive, basic, etc.  People that have fire in their bellies and passion in their hearts will find things to do. They will innovate and they will do all sorts of cool things and great things…

it just may not be for YOU!  It may be that J-DuB just built the best steampunk lego device of all time.

What could he have done for you?

Just sayin..

Do you need a towel to wipe that off?

finIllustrations provided by the artist formerly known as Bryce..