Leading Blog






06.12.06

Five Great Innovation Myths

Boeing's Chairman and CEO, Jim McNerney delivered a speech to the National Center for Healthcare Leadership and he spoke about innovation. He stressed that innovation is a team sport. It is best brought about by people working together across different groups and organizational lines. And it ought to be part of everyone’s job.

He asks, how do you cultivate innovation?
For starters, you should do no harm. Unfortunately, there are a number of popular but damaging misconceptions about innovation. From personal experience, I have seen how these romantic but misguided notions can lead to dysfunctional behavior—serving only to discourage creativity and growth. So here are five great innovation myths (Do you see these in your organization?):

• Myth #1: It's the solitary genius who is responsible for most innovation.
• Myth #2: It's all about technology. The techies are the only innovators.
• Myth #3: If it isn't "New to the world," it's not innovation.
• Myth #4: Innovation can't be "managed." It's a matter of serendipity. An accident. Or luck.
And Myth #5: As a follow-on to Number 4, creativity and discipline are mortal enemies.

Leaders who take over companies with a long-pedigree of success often find mid-life crises in the form of these myths ... largely because they are rooted in a desire for life to remain more or les cluttered and simpler than it's become.
3M was one of those companies that were faced with this transition. It had lost its edge on the real reasons why innovation happens. McNerney added:
The team and I set out to change the mindset of the company in two basic ways:
First was to switch the emphasis from the individual to the team, and to make the team an all-inclusive concept.
Second was to move away from the thought of innovation for innovation's-sake and to replace that with a disciplined focus on customer-inspired innovation.
He concluded with:
Apollo 13
I opened this discussion with the Apollo 13 story because it illustrates what an organization on the top of its form can do, in bouncing back from near catastrophe. The astronauts and the ground crews came up with one innovation after another—and none of those innovations, I might add, was especially high-tech. What they really involved was the brilliant use of scarce resources, a magnificent display of teamwork across a large organization, and the kind of gutsy decision-making that is the true mark of an organization with a high leadership component.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:31 AM
| Comments (0) | Creativity & Innovation



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