Wednesday, January 16, 2013

HBR - Nine Rules for Stifling Innovation

We all talk about how to create a fertile culture to spur and encourage innovation.  In her recent blog posting, Rosabeth Moss Kanter has done a nice job of identifying nine ways to completely derail any innovation efforts whatsoever. They're actually quite funny, although if you are facing any of these where you work then you have my full sympathy...

The nine rules she identifies are summarized (and slightly paraphrased) below:
  1. Be suspicious of any new idea from below. After all, if the idea were any good, we at the top would have thought of it already.
  2. Invoke history. Find a precedent in a an earlier idea that didn't work, so it won't work this time either.
  3. Keep people really busy. If they don't have free time, they won't try to think as much.
  4. In the name of excellence, encourage cut-throat competition. Get groups to critique and challenge each other's proposals, preferably in public forums, and then declare winters and losers.
  5. Stress predictability above all. Count everything that can be counted, and do it as often as possible.
  6. Confine discussion of strategies and plans to a small circle of trusted advisors and make sudden, big announcements. 
  7. Act as though punishing failure motivates success. That'll stop people from trying new things.
  8. Blame all problems on the incompetent people below.
  9. Keep reminding everyone that the top people already know everything there is to know about this business.
You can read the complete blog posting here.

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