Monday, March 17, 2014

Is Innovator ‘Trouble Maker’ or ‘Rain Maker’?

 Innovators think differently via non-linear or different angle.

Although innovation is the light every forward-look organization is pursuing, very few businesses have a systematic approach to managing it, or lack of wise eyes to recognize their special breed of talent- the innovators, or worse, when innovator are punished for their initiatives –typically always "Are you a troublemaker?”

Being a trouble maker is not a bad thing when it comes to innovate, since innovation is all about doing something in such a way that gets noticed in a manner that disrupts legacy thinking or the old way to do things. In order for something to move, it may need to surrender first. So, true innovation always spurs certain disruption otherwise it is not innovation. People don't know how to react in front of something new, in front of something unknown. The feeling of fighting on the front line is unique; all the innovators experience that especially when they fight for their products and succeed.

Focusing on communicating the insight is the key to restore innovation: Innovation always appears with a strange cover. Communication problems are normal when something is new. When people can't formulate their insight with enough precision and they can't communicate that insight effectively and objectively, then the world if full of "trouble" makers; when innovative ideas get the right management support through the streamlined process, to transform into the new products & services & processes, or the innovators stimulate or foster such culture of innovation, then innovators also become rainmakers.

Systematic innovation can improve innovation success ratio: New ideas always cause troubles and it has a very low ratio to bring success. In such a case, people may feel pessimistic about how many chances the idea turns into innovation. That's why they resist to new ideas - always troubles and doubts of success. Reduce the ratio and maybe the situation will change. Organizations should ideally have a sustainable approach to innovation:. Systematic innovation methods may reduce the ratio down to accepted level, a systematic approach is to depict innovation as a system (rather than a traditional process) whose performance depends on the alignment of its various components (people, actions, controls, resources, etc.). 

Innovators think differently via non-linear or different angle.: Innovators whose work continues to move forward and, in turn, is profitable to self and others think differently than those who are traditional thinkers. They see the old problems from every direction and find different solutions. However, the ‘trouble' maker reputation is due to the lack of true democracy in most of the working places.This is unfortunate because such an old system needs innovators more than ever because they will break the chains.

The power of innovation may also come from the collective creativity and collaborative effort. Have the good sense and charisma to attract or to surround yourself with the right people who can move the idea into action. Sometimes the main trouble is that every person follows his/her own interests, which coincide with the interests with the others' interests and the interests of the whole system. More often, innovation is a team effort, a group of ‘trouble makers’ may have to be well tuned to create synergy in making innovation fruitful.

Innovators are the one who can see things differently, not negatively; dare to take the risk, not risk-reverse; be courageous to ‘disobedient’ with good reasons; to push the world forward, not backward.


Across more than 25 years of observing and supporting innovation-focused initiatives for clients across a broad range of industries, I have concluded that for a large majority of companies, innovators are viewed as trouble-makers -- or worse. Very, very few executives support or foster real innovation in their organizations, although nearly all pay lip service to it.

Even in the relatively small portfolio of companies that do foster innovation, they often have to go to absurd levels of protectionism to prevent the core business from attacking and undermining innovative activities -- in many cases organizationally and even physically separating these groups from mainstream operations at offsite locations. Even when successful, internal risk-takers who choose to get involved with innovation often find their careers derailed since being innovative is generally not one of the core criteria for promotion.

There are almost always internal factions whose livelihoods are dependent on maintaining the status quo, and innovation often represents a cannibalization of current state operations to various degrees. They key point for management to recognize and consistently communicate is the hard reality that if an organization does not cannibalize itself -- hopefully at a time and place of its own choosing, then surely an existing competitor or new entrant will introduce that innovation into the market under much less favorable dynamics.

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