Thursday, October 28, 2004
"If you take the character of any man, it really is but the aggregate of tendencies, the sum total of the bent of his mind; you will find that misery and happiness are equal factors in the formation of the character. In studying the great characters the world has produced, I dare say, in vast majority of cases, it would be found that it was misery that taught more than happiness, it was poverty that taught more than wealth, it was blows that brought out the inner fire more than praise." (Rings a bell? Reminds one of Viktor Frankl...)
The second: "To work without motive, to work unattached, brings the highest bliss and freedom". (Rings a bell again? Reminds one of the greatest of epics - Baghavad Gita...)
Sigh....There are so many more such pearls of wisdom that I want to Blog...I want a day to last 48 hours and use 24 of them for identifying and recording such amazing things! GOD...you listening?
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
a).It helps you learn. Just try writing a paper, making a presentation, or explaining a subject to someone. You'll immediately realize that it makes you think hard, and introspect. This makes you know what you know much better!!
b).You get the satisfaction of sharing knowledge and at the same time your knowledge grows.
c).You get much more powerful! Yes, you read right. With the attitude to share knowledge comes the ability to draw people towards you and influence them with your thinking. With influence comes the real power that leaders are associated with. Leaders are made when they share their knowledge and develop their team members for individual as well as the organization's success.
d).You get recognized for what you are. Keeping your knowledge to yourself can never help you project what you are.
e).It contributes to improving your Communication Skills/Expressiveness.
f).You'll be rewarded as a part of schemes that are being worked out at the Vertical as well as Organizational level.
g).Sharing your knowledge brings more trust into the environment and mutual knowledge-sharing is a sure-fire way of coming out with Innovative Solutions.
Given below are two basic ingredients of a KM recipe that you can start with. For a complete KM recipe, the Group Heads/KM Council Members are requested to get in touch with the undersigned.
- Arrange for regular (weekly) knowledge sharing sessions among your teams. Thrash out all areas of interest and document the proceedings in the form of a presentation/document. Remember to upload this into KNet (TechKNet) after a review. You can rest assured that there is nothing like a session on these lines to provoke your grey cells with the 'aroma' of intelligence and 'flavour' of knowledge. It has often been noticed that these sessions when conducted in the right spirits lead to a lot of innovation and employee satisfaction! It ought to satisfy your hunger for knowledge and innovation!
- Get your team members to talk about problems faced and solved (both technical and otherwise) in all your team meets. This ensures a regular flow of knowledge in the form of experiences and learning across your team members. Whenever there are important/useful/significant points, let the 'discoverer' document them in a couple of pages and store them under Best Practices and Learning in KNet (TecKNet).
There's more that you can do on KM if you are looking at Leveraging Knowledge, Synergy, Innovation, Improved Productivity, Continuous Learning, Improved Efficiency, Higher Speed, Improved Quality, Cost Cutting, Customer Satisfaction and Employee Satisfaction. These are the Vitamins that the KM recipe assures you of...
Stephen Covey says “Have you ever been so busy driving (read working), that you had no time to take gas (read knowledge)?” The context is that one ought to Budget time for knowledge gathering to keep driving @ work. It is very important to manage Financial Capital, and like-wise equally important to manage Knowledge Capital. The assets in the knowledge Balance Sheet reflect the extent to which Knowledge is managed and the liabilities reflect the Knowledge that went un-captured. The Bottom line for organizations is not whether they have enough of physical assets but whether they have enough of knowledge, skills and attitude to carry out the projects. Going back to Covey’s quote, it is important to Profit from knowledge repositories like KNet, so as to not find yourself at a Loss and stranded without fuel for the mind. Apart from stopping at the Knowledge Bunk, make sure you credit some knowledge to your KNet Account. That will definitely fetch enough interest from the stake-holders. Your growth rate is sure to be improved by leaps and bounds when you budget enough time for collaborating through learning and sharing. There will be no nagging Knowledge Deficit. What else can one ask for?
Moore’s law says – “The number of transistors per square inch in integrated circuits will double every year.” Taking the liberty to propose what could be called the KMoore’s law (with a mix of Murphy’s law too, if you like) – “Locating information, especially when you need it, will get doubly tougher (in terms of effort and time) every year.”
The ‘knowledge’ future is ours, only, we will need to continuously work towards a culture of generating/capturing knowledge, categorize and store them where they’ll be easily accessible.
KNet provides you a variety of enablers to do just this. Chip in. Go for the integrated approach. Solder Intelligence….inside KNet. Get the Knowledge Electrons to get into their right orbits…and be assured of a galaxy of knowledge when you need it most. Get active in your preferred KM Circuit – through KNetworks. Store those important case studies, expertise notes, best practices, technical documents, white papers, et al. Today, many of us struggle to get hold of these valuable pieces of knowledge. Tomorrow, we should not…
Here’s something you could muse about…Music has no language; come to think of it, knowledge too has no language…it is the same in any language, unless we are talking about knowledge on the language per se. Music needs its team to be in harmony. An Orchestra sounds wonderful only when everybody pitches in with her/his bit and there is perfect synchronization and realization of everyone’s value. So, if one wants a perfect Symphony, one knows the essentialities…
Here’s what people in E&PE have popped into KNet this week. Rock and roll to their knowledge tunes, if you like. Some of these contributions are classical. They might be instrumental on your job. So, just remember to pick up these knowledge lyrics if you want to sing along. (There aren’t any strings attached, though.) Pitch it up to your teams/peers if you think they can make use of it too…and let your voice be heard clear and loud, for knowledge, like music, has to be filtered from the noise.
Some of the latest knowledge compositions that you can tune into @ KNet.TecKNet MHz!
Here are some ace contributions that you can’t however afford to drop. They might help you bring the project game back to deuce just in case you find yourself losing the knowledge advantage by a point or two. They might help you prevent double faults, cut down the unforced errors and be very careful about your second serves, if any. So, serve yourself…and return what you can, for a change, into the net - KNet. Picking up the top 3 documents from the KNet repositories, top 3 relevant projects from PDB and top 3 experts from KoNnEcT in your domain, might get you from 0-0 to a 40-0 Lead. And continuous such sets of 3 could win you the grand-slam ultimately.
Cartoons are fun. But do they provide entertainment value alone? They also teach us a lot - How to be sportive, how to recover from a deadly situation, how to look at the lighter side of things, how to forgive and forget, how to laugh out loud, how to persevere, how to be creative…and a lot more. Cartoons, undoubtedly, prove a point or two like in the examples below.
Ø Jerry writes a book on Tom and Jerry’s encounters and gets a sack of money for it from the publisher. Not knowing anything about till that moment, Tom is just about getting angry and enraged when jerry shows him that the 50% of the cheque amount had been made out in Tom’s name. It was a question of putting their abilities together to get to the money, even if we are only referring to Tom’s ability to chase Jerry till he is wild. And of course, Jerry had the values and attitude to not run away with the money but share it with his partner.
Ø Popeye depends on his spinach more than anything else for his strength. But there were occasions when his hands were tied and he couldn’t get to the spinach. In these circumstances, it was another partner who teamed up and provided him with the spinach!
Ø Dexter might be a genius and but it took his sister to ask him a few silly questions at times to get a brainwave.
Ø Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble had to team up to watch baseball & celebrate wins and basically do anything worthwhile, though Barney is always ready to forgive Fred for his sometimes negative attitude.
Ø The Power Puff Girls are certainly complete only when they are a team of three and not even one less. Enemies run haywire when they see the girls together.
Given all this, one doesn’t have to search long to find the reason why the fox never seems to be able to catch the ostrich in The Road Runner series or why Sylvester (the cat) is never able to catch Tweety (the bird) in The Loony Tunes. The fox/cat isn’t part of a team/isn’t teaming up with anyone…
This edition of KMinds has three little stories for you. We’ll have to log into history for these three interesting tidbits…The first one is the story of one of the most powerful nations that arose from ashes to become a super power; the story of Japan. When Nagasaki and Hiroshima were rocked by bombs, Japan got together and brainstormed! All the key industrialists, government officers, politicians and businessmen came together to think collectively and collaborate. It was this collective thinking and active collaboration that brought alive their ambitious and high flying visions, one after another – to be the best in steel, automobile, and electronics. Japan came alive from the ashes it was reduced to. And it lives on.
Second is the story of Walt Disney, the revolutionary cartoonist businessman. Walt Disney was a strong believer in collective thinking and collective idea generation. He was reputed to get his people under one roof and encourage them to come out with ideas – small/big, minor/major, practical/weird, stupid/intelligent. The result was that for the first time cartoons came alive and captured the imagination of all; kids and adults alike. Disney, Mickey, Donald and the rest live on.
Third is the story of Pyramids and how they were built by Egyptians. The latter failed in their attempts to build the pyramid many a time but of course learned from each attempt. They finally made it because of grit and determination! Unfortunately though, they did everything but forgot to document all that they learned. Mathematicians and Archeologists world wide have dedicated their entire lives trying to understand the mysterious Pyramids with little and time-consuming success. Pyramids unfortunately ‘housed’ mummies that couldn’t come alive and share the knowledge of how they were built! J. Mummies inside the pyramids are of course dead but are there any chances of the similar pyramids coming alive again? Can they ever be replicated? ‘Mummies may return’;) but will Pyramids? Will they live on?
In 1995, John Novak, a salesman & commercial director of automotive emissions at the Englehard Corporation, thought of a system that would use a catalyst to break ozone molecules (emitted from a car radiator) into oxygen and convert carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. Englehard joined force with Ford and capitalized on the idea. Dr. Haren Gandhi who was the director of the chemical engineering department at Ford said “I’ve been in the field for 28 years and this is a completely new way of thinking. It’s a new mind-set.” Novak came out with the idea because he was involved in a multi-departmental team. It is an excellent example of how it may be easier for outsiders to think in ways contradicting existing beliefs.*Are you/is your team open to views from outsiders?
In a book titled ‘How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth about How Companies Innovate’, the author Andrew Hargadon says that a light bulb flashing over the head of a lone scientist might be the universal symbol of invention, but Edison's electric light bulb, which was the product of a whole team of engineers working together with different ideas, is the rule rather than the exception. So, go ahead and start something in your team – brainstorm, collaborate, innovate and revolutionize! Start something by networking with people across the organization; Start your own knowledge circuit. And yes, if you want an enabler, KNet is at your service.
‘Start Something’ is a campaign that Sony started off recently. And it’s no coincidence that the campaign was unleashed to promote its digital networking products and to symbolize the emphasis it lays on connectivity. Sony is a company that has an enviable track record as an innovator. To keep up with its goal of constant innovation, Sony is now restructuring and giving its various engineering and design teams an opportunity to literally be closer together after the restructuring. *Experts say “With so many creative forces so closely concentrated, the company has a rare opportunity to create incentives for new ideas that cross division and product lines.” Sony indeed seems to know how to Start Something!
When National Geographic announced the launch of its Mission Mars programme, many an eyebrow might have been raised, many a pen dropped, many a jaw fallen, and many a thrill passed down the spine . Because they dared to explore; to go where no one else has gone (on Television); true to their tagline. How about you? You too can dare…dare to go where no one else has gone. Dare to speak your mind. Dare to share what you have learned. Dare to document your thoughts for the rest of the world to read. Dare to be yourself. Dare to explore…!
If one wants to see emerging world patterns, one does have to read all that one can. See the common thread. The more one reads and get to see other perspectives; the better is one’s pattern recognition. After all, leaders are ones who see the patterns. Are you one too? Then, go ahead and set out on Mission Knowledge. And what’s more - now’s an apt time too! It’s Techforum time at Wipro and just the time when you can write all the white papers you’ve ever wanted to. (Once you are through with your Techforum submission, also ensure that you put it up on KNet for Wipro to savor).
Techforum is an event where the best of minds are brought together in a white paper contest...
It is the cricket mania season indeed. But in E&PE, it looks like the KNet mania season as well! It’s a KNet ‘sixer’ this week – well, actually, all we are saying is that there are six contributions that have gone into KNet from E&PE in the last one week. :)
Talking about cricket and KM, ever explored Third Umpires and their role? The people on the field deliver – be it batting or bowling or fielding – and the umpires on the field judge and declare. The umpires on the field are right in the middle of the action – they are where the action is. So, why get a Third Umpire to join the gang? Can’t the teams and the umpires on the field themselves do the job?
South Africa is believed to be the country that came out with the innovative idea of having Third Umpires in the game of cricket! Since then, Third Umpires have played a crucial role in the game – especially in the case of run-outs. They are better equipped to judge certain parameters and get to see the situation from a significantly different perspective. Not to forget, they ideally adopt a neutral stand. Does your team face such run-out situations? Why not get a well-known ‘Third Umpire’ to bring in a fresh perspective and share his/her ideas? Come to think of it, this is what knowledge-sharing and collaboration are all about. A new perspective from outside helps you think afresh – and be creative! So, go ahead and do it this way, a la, South Africa when the situation calls for it!
Knowledge Management is like subscribing to an Insurance Policy and a Mutual Fund in some ways. The benefits can be seen only on introspection and in the long-term. Life undoubtedly has its share of accidents that can’t be avoided altogether and knowledge captured (saved in a document) today might come to our rescue when we crash into ignorance, or unknown areas tomorrow. So to say, it also saves us from taxing times later (pun intended :)). One of the advantages of investing in a well-managed Mutual Fund is that it allows one to invest just what one can while pooling together similar amounts from many other sources and leveraging on this synergy to provide everyone with a phenomenal Return on Investment. KNet (our KM portal) is in a way a Knowledge Mutual Fund! It gets better with everyone chipping in with their bit! Just to trigger off your thoughts, some of the recent contributions from other verticals are on Technical and Managerial Lessons Learned, Best Practices and the like. Wouldn’t it be great to see more such contributions from E&PE (our business vertical), given its breadth and depth of experience and knowledge? Plunge into it for you’ll love the experience and the value-add that this activity will give you!
Take time to
- work (because it is the price of success)
- think (because it is the source of power and the key to making good decisions)
- play (because it is the secret of youth and all work does make a person dull)
- read (because it is the foundation of knowledge)
- worship (because it is the highway of reverence and washes the dust of the earth from our eyes)
- help and enjoy with friends (because our friends are the major source of comfort and happiness)
- love (because it is the sacrament of life that might be the most important element in our lives)
- dream (because it is the foundation upon which hope is built)
- laugh (it has been called the music of the soul)
- plan (because it is the secret of being able to have time for the first nine things) We need to remember that things that can't be counted are the things that count the most!
Ironically, methinks that in many an organization, we first get people to chase work, projects, money, competition and success and then teach them that there are other important things in life as well. Well, yes, maybe different parties pull people in different directions. The management might more often than not stick to the initial rules of work,...money...and success.
Q: Is there an easy way to make an agitated mind relatively quiet and peaceful?
A: "Observation of the breath". Herein our normal breathing activity is observed, merely remaining a witness to the incoming and outgoing breath. No effort is made to control the breath. Our various thoughts are restrained for sometime and the thought flutterings are temporarily controlled; the mind becomes relatively quiet and peaceful.
You ought to try this!
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Comments from yours truly: Excellent stuff! I enjoyed reading this passionate article of yours (Dave's) immensely. But then, I have a few things to say - Yeah...collaboration is the way to go; but I think natural leaders will emerge in any group that you bring together - whether you like it or not. What we probably need are leaders who are 'genuine' leaders - those who know when to follow and when to let some one else lead! I read this fascinating article on how some birds fly (was that geese?) and how they take turns in leading the flock! But yes, the downside when it comes to human beings is - once a leader, always wanting to be the leader - ego, power et al. I don't see any way out. Blessed are the teams that have a 'leader' that will let others be leaders when the situation calls for it. Somewhere, deep inside, each of us wants to find the leader in ourselves, even if we weren't the type that wants to crush others in the way. The bottom-line is this in my view - Collaboration is a paradoxical concept that still calls for leaders that can also follow. How the team manages and balances this paradox determines its success! :)
Response from Dave!
Thanks for your comments. The only leaders who I have respected as genuine are those that reflect and pursue consensus, rather than using power or rhetoric to overcome resistance. I think the desire in all of us to be leaders is a latent sign of competitiveness that comes out in times of stress. When there's an ecological crisis in nature, the dominant ones, the alphas, come to the fore and behave very aggressively, killing the weaker animals and hoarding food until the crisis is resolved. It's nature's balancing mechanism of last resort, and the fact such behaviour is so prevalent in man indicates, I think, how intense the stress of our modern, overcrowded, unsustainable 'civilized' world is. /-/ Dave
Monday, October 25, 2004
I learned a few things as well! There is an Indian IT company that employs full-time Knowledge Hunters and Knowledge Scribes! The Knowledge hunters probe and identify knowledge and get it 'out' while the Knowledge Scribes are responsible for the flowery documentation!
There's another process called the KSP (Knowledge Strategy Process) followed by an European Conglomerate that is quite interesting! This is what they apparently do:
1. Start from the organizational goals
2. Identify the performance indicators
3. Identify the processes associated with these performance indicators
4. Study the processes (break it down), Identify the knowledge inputs and outputs in each of the processes. Identify the Proficiency, Codification and Diffusion (PCD) levels. Proficiency means the experts, Codification means the extent to which knowledge has been documented and Diffusion means the extent to which the knowledge is spread across the business unit...
5. Find out 'what is required' and 'what is now' and the gap between the two in terms of the PCD levels.
6. Do a BPR and fill in the gap! (by gathering the missing knowledge artifacts in terms of P, C and D)
Interesting and very logical, I think! I'd love to be involved in such a process! There'd be so much to learn from it!!
This student had one of his own ideas to add to the conversation as well, he spoke about Explicit & Tacit and Structured & Unstructured knowledge. He thinks that if every process were to be exploded, and each of the knowledge artifacts therein categorized as explicit structured, explicit unstructured, tacit structured or tacit unstructured and a density graph depicting each of the quadrants be drawn, it would give the top management an idea as to what percentage of the knowledge artifacts are in the untapped area. Then one could have a KM road map to shove the untapped into the tapped! Sounds intriguing! Wonder what kind of effort this would call for...?
Saturday, October 23, 2004
One that believes that people laugh when they feel happy. The other that believes that to be happy, people should laugh! Laughter therapy must have originated from the second school. Anyways, like the saying goes, happiness is a state of mind. One can decide to be happy and be happy irrespective of what's happening around. Like Victor Frankl says in his book, happiness cannot be pursued. If that's the truth, then you don't need anything in particular to make you happy. If it can be proved through medical research that laughing tunes the heart, the body and the mind, then one's 'ready' to be happy! Why should one wait to get whatever one wants? Okay...let me stop here....guess I am rambling without any aim whatsoever....the bottom line is probably this - One can be happy - unconditionally - without needing anything to happen...
Blllthbbbb - Calvin style... ;)
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Focus on solutions not on problems:
Underwater pen: When NASA began the launch of astronauts into space, they found out thatthe pens wouldn't work at zero gravity (Ink won't flow down to the writingsurface). In order to solve this problem, it took them one decade and $12million. They developed a pen that worked at zero gravity, upside down,underwater, in practically any surface including crystal and in atemperaturerange from below freezing to over 300 degrees C. And what did the Russians do?They used a Pencil!Simple intelligence
One of the most memorable case studies I came across on Japanesemanagement was the case of the empty soap box, which happened in one ofJapan's biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint thataconsumer had bought a soap box that was empty. Immediately the authoritiesisolated the problem to the assembly line, which transported all thepackaged boxes of soap to the delivery department.For some reason, one soap box went through the assembly line empty.Management asked its engineers to solve the problem. Post-haste, theengineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolutionmonitors manned by two people to watch all the soap boxes that passedthrough the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they workedhard and they worked fast but they spent whoopee amount to do so. But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed with thesame problem, did not get into complications of X-rays, etc but insteadcameout with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan andpointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soapboxpassed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line. Keep it small and simple!
To be engaged and detached at the same time. "'Be in the world but not of it". Detached in the
sense that nothing or no one outside can take away your inner freedom and engaged in the sense that you remain motivated to lead a worthy life. - Deepak Chopra
Another nice quote - 'Love is the most persuasive power in life.'
- Cost savings
- Higher staff productivity
- Improved level of service (CRT?)
- Re-using existing knowledge
- Avoiding duplication/re-invention
- More innovation
- Sharing best practice
- Locating expertise
- Better decision making
- Better customer handling (CRT again)
- Staff attraction / retention
- Improved Worker Skills (can also be tied up with ramp-up and learning?)
- My additions : reduced cycle time for products
- Cross-selling (sales)
- Quality improvement or business process improvements
So, howzzat? :)
- Lack of time
- Lack of IT Infrastructure
- Lack of top management support
- Lack of a knowledge sharing culture
- Lack of training (I presume it is KM training that he is referring to)
- Lack of trust
- Insufficient financial resources
- Insufficient human resources
- Inadequate internal skills (KM skills)
- System too complicated (KM portal/system)
- Technical problems (access, search etc)
- Users do not see personal benefits
- Lack of user uptake due to insufficient communication
- Over-reliance on external contractors/consultants
Interesting! If we were to run this survey across the Org. we can clearly identify the top 3 problems and do something about it to improve upon the KM culture.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Monday, October 18, 2004
Nevertheless, it's a good book. What I wanna blog is this - the author talks about the need for a paradoxical team for creativity and innovation! He talks about the need for a group that intends to be creative to have people fresh out of college as well as those with good experience; those who are playful and those who are rigid and disciplined; those who are risk-averse and those who take risks and so forth! Interesting! So, paradoxical circumstances can deliver the best! Hmm...that strengthens my bonding with paradoxes that much more... :)
At every stage in life, you'll find two roads beckonin you - one is an easy and short-cut route and another is the longer and tougher of the two. The easy one might be extremely tempting. But in the long run, it doesn't lead you to anywhere. It can only hurt you. The longer one seems challenging but that is what will take you where you want, that is the 'right' way to go, that is what will satisfy you and leave you with a clear conscience.
This isn't a verbatim thing. My 'small' interpretations and additions included... ;)
Thursday, October 14, 2004
- creativity : what wonderful ideas they come up with. nothing ever stops them from conjuring up the wildest of ideas and thoughts!
- curiosity and learning: they are always asking questions and some very fundamental and weird and uninhibited ones at that
- forgetting and forgiving : they forget and forgive before one can say 'hey'. Life will be one long joyful journey were we all to forget and forgive our near and dear ones
- playful nature : they are so playful and full of mirth. what we need to make life a song
- cheerful and happy : they are always cheerful and happy and don't recognize the downsides of life
- in the present (no past and no future) : they are mostly in the present and don't bother their little heads about the past or the future
- perseverance : they never ever give up. because they are not aware of the difficulties. they believe that anything can be accomplished provided they go at it doggedly!
life can be enchanting and fabulous were we to adopt a child's attitude! :)
The ideas, the language, the cheek, the truth....everything abt C&H is simply amazing! I hope Bill continues to entertain generations to come!
The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going...
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step - Lao Tsu
Don't be afraid to take a big step...you can't cross a chasm in two small jumps - David Lloyd George
"I've got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom." - Sir Angus Grossart "Everyone who got where he is, had to begin where he was." - Robert Louis Stevenson
"Man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible." - Max Weber
Sometimes the journey is its own reward...
Whatever your dreams...Keep Walking...
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Innovation through KM: Innovation is something that Wipro believes in and pursues. How can KM help in this pursuit? Practices like Brainstorming, Idea Gathering, Six Thinking Hats and Catchball are typical examples of this. All these practices involve getting people together to think collectively! MIT,USA conducted a study a decade ago and discovered that 80% of the most valuable ideas that come out of organizations are as a result of group-thinking practices! And like Theodore Zeldin (philosopher and thinker) indicated, conversation itself is a process that not just rearranges cards but shuffles them and helps create new cards (read new ideas)!
Monday, October 11, 2004
I am gonna try this out soon. Will post the experiences as well! ;)
Monday, October 04, 2004
Barriers to Innovation
There are no easy answers or formulae for creating a creative or innovative organizational climate. There are two ways to approach innovation. One is to understand the 'barriers' to innovation and to look for solutions.
Fear is the number one enemy identified by most CEOs and managers. Fear of failure. Fear of ridicule. Fear of decision-making. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of taking risks. Fear about job security. Fear of change. As one CEO said, "Fear freezes." Interestingly, in many cases 'fear' may not be real and it could be the employee's lack ownership and courage that is the barrier.
Needless 'red tape' stifles new thinking and fresh approaches. Even in the best of companies 'red tape' lurks about in some form or shape.
'Silos and Turfs'
Individual fiefdoms prevent collaboration and experimentation. This is especially true if it involves new ways of working, unwillingness to share power or responsibility, and rewards.
In this environment empowerment is a mere lip service and there is no intellectual acceptance of the benefits of innovation. Inherently, the CEO does not believe that it will help the company or if it is really needed. In these cases, the CEO says all the right things about need for innovation, but he doesn't do anything about it.
'Unrelenting Pressure to Produce Results'
This type of environment often leads to the tyranny of the 'either or.' Either you can be innovative or you produce results. Here innovation is not relevant unless you can summon it on demand and produce short-term results.
'Right Hand / Left Hand'
In the 'right hand doesn’t know what the left had is doing' environment an idea that works in one area is seldom replicated across the company. The NIH - Not Invented Here - Syndrome is another tough enemy. Size breeds distance. As companies grow they lose touch with customers, employees and people who can give them ideas. They lose the ability to listen.
'Poor Leadership and Commitment to Innovation'
If the CEO does not have time for innovation, you can be sure that nothing will happen. Much depends on how the CEO demonstrates his commitment to innovation. What he says and does in this context will be more powerful than the speeches he makes. How does he respond to new ideas? How does react to ideas that may not have occurred to him? Is he willing to let other people get the recognition and reward for innovation? Is he really passionate about it? Is he willing to change personally to make this happen? Is he willing to put his neck on the block, or put his money where his mouth is to support innovation?
'Breaking the Barriers to Innovation'
Breaking the barriers to innovation is really about changing "what we believe and how we behave." It is not about a few fancy creativity workshops or employee suggestion systems.
It requires a band of believers and evangelists who are determined to make the shift - no matter what happens. It requires people who are willing to challenge old ways and break a few rules in the bargain. Instituting an innovation culture can be senior management's greatest challenge - but it can be done. Unilever's successful approach to creating an innovation culture has been recorded in the book 'To the Desert and Back.'
(Extract of an article by R. Sridhar in 'The Hindu Business Line,' April 1, 2004.