Is your innovation glass half full or empty?

by Deborah Mills-Scofield

Is your innovation glass half full or empty?Have you ever known anyone who explicitly says that innovation is important? No!  So listen carefully for the magic word – BUT.   Some of you know how much I love to challenge the status quo so here’s my theory: Status Quophiles see the glass as half empty and want to make sure it doesn’t become totally empty.  Status Quophobes are Innovators – they see the half empty glass as half full, waiting to be filled up!

I’ve been collecting some phrases I hear from Status Quophiles (SQ) and the rare responses from Innovators (I), Status Quophobes.  Do these sound familiar? If you can add any, please do so in the comments!

SQ: Could be a major breakthrough, but your predecessor tried that a while ago, and that’s why you’re here now.

I: Could be a major breakthrough, and we’ll support you in trying it.

SQ: That could work, but we risk not being able to get the coating on a reliable and consistent basis if the world blows up.

IThat would work, and we can diversify our coating suppliers to assure quality and price.

SQ: Wow, cool, but that’s going to be a problem for our customers.

IWow, cool, and that’s going to let us help so many more customers and markets than we can now!

SQAppreciate your enthusiasm and ideas, but once you’ve been around a bit longer and know how we do things here, you’ll understand the challenges involved.

IAppreciate your enthusiasm and ideas, and the breath of fresh thinking and perspective is just what we need!

SQ: This makes sense in the long run, but remember, we are measured on quarterly results.

IThis makes sense in the long run, and we can show some benefits even in the short term by applying our learning early on.

SQ: Nice idea, but we have to recognize the sunk costs of our existing fixed assets.

I: Nice idea, and let’s face it, sunk costs are, well, sunk!

SQ: We should pursue this, but let’s make sure it’s 150% vetted and tested and has met all the criteria before we start the project, let alone release it, even for a beta.

I: We should pursue this, and figure out how to prototype and test as we go along to make sure we get it right.

SQ: Interesting, but things are going so well, we’re profitable and growing so we must be on the right track.

I: Interesting, and that will let us start adapting to our customers changing needs while we have the resources and loyalty.

Here’s my challenge to you to try for just a few days.  Listen for the BUT in meetings and discussions.  Count them.  Then, listen for the AND and count those?  Which do you hear more? And (ha!) what can you do to change that (perhaps starting with yourself!)?  Please share what you hear, your count of BUT & AND, and what you can do to change it!  Learning is no good if its not shared!

image credit: oneway-up.com

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Deb, founder of Mills-Scofield LLC, is an innovator, entrepreneur and non-traditional strategist with 20 years experience in industries ranging from the Internet to Manufacturing with multinationals to start ups. She is also a partner at Glengary LLC, a Venture Capital Firm.

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