Why Corporations Put ‘Innovation’ Into Their Mission Statements, But Not Their Businesses

Posted: Mar 05, 2018 10:27 AM
Why Corporations Put ‘Innovation’ Into Their Mission Statements, But Not Their Businesses

A look through most corporate value statements and brochures will show that 'innovation' is one of the top listed values. It’s almost become a buzzword that organizations feel they need to display.

A quick look at the dictionary definition of innovation says, "It is the action or process of innovating," and then lists a number of synonyms which include:

change, alteration, revolution, upheaval, transformation, metamorphosis, 

reorganization, restructuring, rearrangement, recasting, remodelling, renovation, 

restyling, variation new measures, new methods, 

new devices, novelty, newness, unconventionality, modernization, modernism; 

a break with tradition, a shift of emphasis, a departure, a change of direction; 

Within a few minutes of speaking to people in an organization (especially top leadership) one can quickly figure out if they are true to their stated intent to be innovative - if their behavior is congruent with what they say is important. Most will tell you that "innovation is crucial to the continuing success of the organization" and yet they will be the same ones who resist any form of change (or any of the synonyms given above).

Emotional equity invested in the status quo

One of the main reasons that leaders ‘talk the innovation game but fail to walk it out’ is that they have too much emotional equity in the way things are currently done (or have always been done). It is easy to be so emotionally connected to what we know and hence block out the possibilities that can come by seeking out what we don’t know. As humans we tend to push away anything that we don’t understand, and anything that we don’t have control over. This is so often why we reject ideas that come from other people.

Innovation is about ‘breaking with tradition’, ‘a shift of emphasis’, ‘a departure from what is currently being done’ - ‘a change of direction’. None if these can take place if there is too much emotional equity invested in the status quo.

Insecurity, Fear and Pride

A further dive into why we typically behave in this way (pushing away and rejecting what we don’t understand and/or can’t control) is because of a combination of personal security, fear and pride.  When there is insecurity, fear and pride we will tend to ‘kill’ ideas that come from other people. When a leader is trapped in insecurity they will resist change and their decisions will be driven by the fear of losing positional power and the fear of losing relevance and importance.

Overcoming the gap between ‘the known and unknown’ & ‘what we control and can’t control’

As we work with client organizations and leaders we have discovered that the biggest constraint that they face is that they don’t have the right ingredients, tools, and a recipe to help them ‘crossover’ the river of complication into the unknown.

The culture in an organization will follow the mindset of leader or leadership team and how they view transformation. Most mindsets typically fall under one of these categories – (1) Nurturer of the Status Quo, (2) Explorer or (3) Co-Creator. If the leader is a ‘Nurturer of the Status Quo’ innovation and creativity will be shut down in the organization. Likewise, if the leader is a ‘Co-Creator’ that will flow into the culture of the organization and teams will thrive through creativity, innovation and contribute so much more to the future success of the organization. Please feel free to download the ‘Co-Creating the Future or trapped in the Status Quo’ e-Guide which will expand on these.

Co-Creators encourage intellectual curiosity

As co-creators of value driven profitability we need to be open to new ideas and to nurture them because ‘what we don’t know today could be the big break through to our future’. We need to encourage more intellectual curiosity by constantly questioning the status quo and constantly listening so that we can discover new ways of doing things.