The innovation intent of CEO's doesn't get converted into successful outcomes. They feel frustrated sometimes. Innovation initiatives, in spite of all their backing, don't seem to work. What can be the reason?
Innovation needs a change in mindset. An openness in work culture, smooth exchange of ideas and experiences, and an ability to accept new ideas and new point of views.
This openness about exchanging ideas is so inherent in small organisations. Startups are cauldron of these discussions. Hot debates are a daily affair, and the fun. Disrupting ideas come out of these free flowing, high intensity interactions.
But bigger organisations face a lot of problems in such a smooth and open communication.
What's the number 1 hindrance?
The established organisations are strong and unshakable in the marketplace, same way, their internal structures and the hierarchy is also 'established' firmly. Every person in the team knows the norms. Employees follow these written and unwritten rules.
The truth is, seniors are not just respected but feared. They can make or mar someone's career. Employees don't open their mouth in front of the seniors.
And if they do, they utter: YES!
Whatever the boss says is right. They don't challenge, go along with it. The workforce can't be blamed solely for this behaviour. Because they learnt it from experience. People get sidelined, ignored and even fired for not agreeing to the boss.
A common joke in the workplace is:
There are only 2 sides to an argument, boss's side and the outside!
And in such a culture why to take a risk?
The harsh ground realities do not reach the higher management. No one wants to become the doom's messenger. No one wants to challenge the status quo.
2: The organisation structure creates rigid compartments
All teams work in their own little shell. They are joined to the giant organisation by order of command, communication channels and various inter-functional projects. But yet, the compartments remain.
Again, there are set rules, what kind of information can be shared with other departments and who are the people having the honours to do so.
This compartmentalisation, and protecting the department intelligence is a big barrier in innovation culture. Often we find duplication of efforts in various functions. Skill-sets and competencies are available in the organisation but in these silos, remains hidden.
This also creates a kind of communication lag.
Now compare it with the startups where information and experience sharing is lightening fast. They don't need a memo, or a request raised to find some information from others. The information is free flowing. People meet and greet and chat in the cafeteria, smoking zones, while travelling together.
To foster innovation in our organisations we must enable such a culture.