Maybe if we talk about innovation in a different way, we won’t freak people out. We might get to the actual goal of innovation more quickly and easily.
Why are many people so suspicious of “innovation” at your organization? Probably because at least some large segment of folks pushing it are actually pushing snake oil or something scammy. “Open strategic innovation! Step right up!” What a lot of words without saying anything at all.
“Innovation is executive porn.” That’s what one InformationWeek columnist said. Meaning, there’s more appetite for fantasy than for delivering reality. (Don’t worry, it’s safe for work.)
But innovation doesn’t need to be fantasy. In fact, innovation can be crucial in adapting your organization to new market realities (so-called “disruptive innovation”) or incrementally improving processes and existing products (“continuous improvement.”)
Yet, I think that the “i-word” gets in the way of creating improvements. So, I have a simple proposal. Let’s stop talking about innovation.
I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to talking about innovation. I really want to see positive change in my life, in my co-workers’ lives … but that word is seriously overused and abused, y’all.
So, instead, I’m trying to get myself to talk about “creating positive change.”
Most of us have lots of reasons why we can’t “innovate” at our organizations. We’re in the wrong seat on the bus to do so, we don’t have enough in the way of resourcing. “Gosh, if I had $500,000 more in my budget, I could really do some INNOVATING.”
That sounds reasonable. Kind of.
Now substitute “create positive change” for “do some innovating” and you’ll see how ridiculous that sounds.
“Gosh, if I had $500,000 more in my budget, I could really create some positive change.”
Really? You need $500K to create positive change? Of course not! $500,000 wouldn’t HURT, of course. 🙂
Stories abound about creating positive change from “the wrong seat on the bus.” At my current organization, IT introduced a better way to manage a projects, which got adopted organization-wide. Not because we were hawking “open, strategic innovation”, but because it worked better for us. And people saw that it worked.
So, never doubt that you can change your organization from your seat on the bus, no matter how humble.
And maybe, if we start talking about positive change instead of the i-word, we’ll start doing it more.