To innovate or not to innovate: that is the question

There have been thousands of books and lists written about how to be a better manager or how to be more innovative. Currently, I’m reading ‘Becoming a Better Boss: why good management is so difficult‘ by Julian Birkinshaw.  After sharing Google’s list of 8 ranked factors that defined the really good manager at Google, the introduction stated:

“But it is also a useless list. Why? Because we already know all this…I have seen versions of this list in every book ever written on management. When I run seminars with executives or with MBA students, it takes 20 minutes to construct this list simply by drawing on the experiences of those in the room.”

Adam Bryant, writing in The New York Times, called the list “forehead-slapping obvious…ready like a whiteboard gag from an episode of The Office.”

We all know what we should be doing. The problem is in the doing…the knowing-doing gap.

My experience in innovation is identical to being a good boss. We know what the best ‘Innovation Governance’ is; the task is to get people to do it. (For an explanation of Innovation Governance, see Australian Institute of Company Directors).

Being a better boss is the same as being better at innovation. The key to success is to understand how to make change happen. How to change at the individual, team and organisation level must be addressed.

My ‘secret’ approach to be a better boss or be a better innovator is to do the opposite.

The secret to being better at innovation is NOT TO INNOVATE.

As William Gibson says, ‘the future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.’ Identify the people that can connect you to innovation practice and innovation, that is already the future.

The secret to being a better boss is NOT TO BE THE BOSS.

Again, identify the people that connect your team. Connect with people that connect to best practice in your organisation. See what works and copy. Don’t read theoretical business books. Talk to real people, understand real situations and follow real examples.

It sounds easy…the secret of success is to copy successful others.

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