Good Managers Make Good Innovation Managers

by Tim Kastelle

Good Managers Make Good Innovation ManagersWhat happens when the people that are supposed to be creative and innovative in your organization are neither?

I ran across an interesting quote from one of the people interviewed in the new book Herding Cats: Being Advice to Aspiring Academic and Research Leaders by Geoff Garrett and Graeme Davies:

“The biggest thing that I have found through the years is that many people in research are actually bureaucrats. I would have expected them all to be interested in the future, wanting to change the world, brimming over with enthusiasm to get on with the job and deliver useful results. This took me a long time to realize and I think I would have been much more effective if I had understood that there are a lot of people who really do not want to see much in the way of change, and that includes a lot of people in R&D.”

How do you deal with this?

It’s actually a really tough question. This is why effective change management is a critical part of innovation management. It’s also why in research studies, innovation success correlates with so many other good outcomes – higher profits, better firm survival rates, more engaged employees and so on.

The reason for this is that all of these things are driven by good management.

Garrett and Davies conclude their excellent book with a quote from another interview:

I reckon there are five key dimensions to leadership in a research and development or academic environment…

  1. Research leaders must have a vision of where they want the organization to go – because, if you don’t, no one else will.
  2. You articulate it, and communicate it well, to get your people excited.
  3. You hire the best people you can find.
  4. You create the environment where they can excel, and succeed.
  5. You get out of the way.

Garrett and Davies undersell their book when they say it is only about managing academic-style research. Those are all the things you need to do to manage effectively anywhere.

Good innovation managers are simply good managers.

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Tim KastelleTim Kastelle is a Lecturer in Innovation Management in the University of Queensland Business School. He blogs about innovation at the Innovation Leadership Network.

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  1. Hi Tim, I agree with your formula: Good Innovation Managers=Good Managers, I just wish there were more good managers out there. I’m a manager and take huge pride in doing the best I can with the resources I have, and to do that I have had to innovate. I recently completed my MBA hoping to get exposed to innovation on this field, and to be honest when my marketing professor gave us a business case from 1999 I was very disappointing. I have learned more about real innovation in the web, reading blogs, and participating in rich discussions in Linkedin.

    Great post
    Cheers
    Carlos

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