Culture & Innovation – Pt II

I’m also a major proponent of using management as a catalyst for producing organizational success.  When the remaining questions, as we move deeper into the 21st-century is, what problem was management. as we know it, designed to solve? Gary Hamel suggests that old-style management was designed to get people to serve the organization goals. That old model has to be replaced with one that asks the question.  “How do we build organizations that merit the gifts of creativity, passion, and initiative, which are things that people can choose to bring or not bring to their work.

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This dilemma is further complicated by the fast-growing new wave of employees called the Millenials. These younger people have been raised to believe that their contribution inside the organization should be judged simply on the merits of what you do not on your title, credentials, or providence. What’s an organization to do?

In a very selfish way, organizations need to begin with hiring talent and using that talent to make profits.  That brings into question the old 20th century model of managing organizations. Talented people in the 21st-century are not likely to need, nor will they stand for traditional hierarchy. One thing that I have discovered is that most organizations pretend that they want to hire the best and brightest. In fact, all the evidence suggests that they don’t. The reason, of course, is that really bright, talented people are a pain in the behind. They don’t follow rules; they don’t want to honor the hierarchy; they question everything; they take action without permission; and, they take what they believe are reasonable risks. Let’s be honest, most organizations and most organizational cultures were not designed to accommodate these rebels.  So, while organizations say that they want the best and brightest, in fact, they are looking for people who are good enough, and most likely to fit into the organizational culture. Before you jump to conclusions and think that this is a putdown, let me assure you I believe that it represents smart management. Having a bright person on your team who is not able to work with others is a disruptive factor.  So, you have to do an analysis to determine if you want diversity and innovation, and if so, what adjustments are you willing to make so they can thrive in your organization.

Going forward, not many companies will be able to waste any of the human imagination and intellectual capital that they have. CEOs will need to abandon thinking that some few of their employees are clever and imaginative, but most are not. They will have to learn, like Toyota and others, that you can get the best ideas from ordinary people. Getting the best from all of your people, all the time is the result of the process we call Managing Differently.

The thing that really stops innovation in most organizations is risk.  Many talented people don’t see risk the way others do. CEOs are terrified of any disruption that can put their quarterly earnings at risk.  So, there is a gap between the radical rhetoric of innovation and reality. Diversity Management strategies, properly executed can be the catalyst that makes innovation possible. Even in those organizations which are risk-averse.