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Creative apartheid, and other organizational sins

Avoiding silos in the organizationThe blog Innovation Weblog cited Gary Hamel’s book The Future of Management a few months ago, and I’ve meant to share its key points on impediments to innovation. Here they are along with my interpretations:

Creative apartheid–The long-held notion that creativity is a gift few have and that creative things should, and perhaps can only come from the “creative types” in the organization, or, perhaps, only from outside consultants. We need everyone’s creativity to be nurtured and set free.

The drag of old mental models–Organizations get stuck in modes of thought and conventional views that endure and hold fresh thinking at bay. They need to be able to change the way they think.

No slack–Cost cutting and lean practices leave little room for the free thinking and experimentation that might lead to innovative practices, new products, and new business models. Innovation needs slack.

To these, I’d like to add what I’ve observed over and over again in groups I’ve worked with. Too many companies have a mental template and an obsession, that has them looking at market share and bottom line growth as not just critical measures of success, but, sometimes, the only measures. They demand that a new idea deliver $50 million to the bottom line in year 2. They insist that changes not cost more, even if there might be a long-term payoff.

Better foresight and habitual longer-range thinking can make a big difference across this range of chronic organizational disabilities. If only by modeling longer-term good outcomes, the tools and habits of foresight can help organizations get beyond this barriers to innovation.

Image: my-aim-is-true via Flickr, cc license

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  • Stan Masters January 14, 2009, 11:22 am

    We spend too much time establishing creative apartheid. Organizations that embrace diversity recognize that everyone has a gift or two and would be more than pleased to share their gift(s) for the unity of all.

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