Do managers really support innovation?
In theory supporting innovation is a no-brainer. Innovation means progress and who, in their right ‘commercial’ mind stands against progress? Only those content to watch the economy move ahead without them, that’s who. So no competitive business can afford to sit idly on the sidelines while someone else exploits new ideas and technologies.
Whomsoever idles on an easy chair will go down, fodder to the inexorable requirement of capitalism for healthy new growth out of the mulch provided by those dying, dead, and decaying businesses that were incapable of recognizing, adapting to, and exploiting change. This unending process of regeneration is referred to in the literature as capitalism’s demand for creative destruction -a definition that also applies, incidentally, to innovation. So while no one in business will ever admit to being against innovation, in fact just about everyone would claim to be vehemently for it, most managers are acutely aware of the risks of the unknown. After all, whatever works now, does admittedly, work. Why should it be changed in favor of something that might possibly not work as well or at all? Why take the chance? Why upset the applecart? Why put what is patently good enough at risk? Because time marches on. That’s why. Any competent manger must be keenly aware of, and effectively responsive to, the measures of success –whatever they are -in the present tense. It takes a different sort of intellect, though, to detect that these measures are becoming less indicative of success because things outside that manager’s direct control or responsibility are changing. In other words, what defines success is changing. What defines success in the future will be increasingly and significantly different than what defines success in the present. Who envisions that future will also recognize the need for pre-emptive response. And that pre-emptive response will be borne of innovation.
So, do managers really support innovation? If you are a manger yourself, do you support innovation? Are you truly willing to go through the present inconvenience and future risk of the process of creative destruction? I’ll delve a little deeper into the subject next blog. In the meantime, think about it.