Are innovators their own worst enemies?
We innovation cheerleaders leave a lot of ruffled feathers behind us as we urge the sweeping away of the long-established. Do we care?
The picture we paint of the world that we innovators want to create seems unarguably attractive: more efficient, faster, easier and more sustainable. But there is almost always someone’s parade we are going to be raining on. This video is of a guy giving some clear, simple and well constructed advice on what to do about this. I don’t know him, but I’m seriously impressed by how effective this is at hammering home the problem.
He (Dr. Todd Dewett) tells us to do three things for people we might have upset when we told them about our innovation aims. First, say sorry, in private. Second, articulate the precise thing you said that you think would have upset them. Third, commit to avoiding doing that in future.
I like this approach, and I’d like to add to it. First, before talking about innovation, we really ought to find out what the change might mean to those people affected, in terms of their life and work. We expect this kind of ‘detailed preparation’ to happen on vast ‘strategic’ projects, so why not just ‘think strategic’ on our own projects? If we think that some change we are proposing, no matter how small, is going to transform an organisation, then it is strategic.
This means asking how people would be best prepared to cope with change. The second thing I would add, is that we should try really hard to find out how they could possibly get involved in exploring the possibilities of change and involved in shaping the change itself, no matter how clear we are on exactly how we want to implement it.
Sure, realistically, this ‘involvement-based approach’ might ultimately prove practically impossible in some cases. But as innovators, since when have we been ‘defeatist’ about such challenges?
It’s part of the ‘social sustainability agenda’ for us, as champions of innovation, to give this our best shot, maybe even to consider taking some significant risks in order to do so.