The Pain of Skeptic Executives – An Open Innovation Challenge

by Stefan Lindegaard

The Pain of Skeptic Executives - An Open Innovation ChallengeThis should have been a short message to executives and other people in influential positions, who are skeptical towards opening up their corporate innovation efforts..

…but I got think that they would not read this any so this is more like a piece of advice to corporate innovation teams having to deal with such people.

What I want to bring out here is that continuing to do the same things that you have been doing for the last couple of decades might keep you at your position for a longer period of time. Since you are already at the top of the firm and since you most likely believe that the skills and mindset that got you there will keep you there, you probably don’t see much reason to change your learning behaviours, stay up to date and sharpen your saw. It is just easier for executives to forego changes compared to those who are still climbing the corporate ladder.

This is well for the skeptic executive…but very bad for your company. The fast pace of change in business and innovation requires up-to-date understanding, skills, toolbox and mindset. If this is not in place, your company is in danger of being run over by companies that are more nimble and more prepared for dealing with changes.

Corporate innovation teams need to find a way to deal with this. It is a tough challenge and there is only one comfort if your bosses are really difficult to deal with on this matter. At some point, other executives or perhaps the board will notice and the executives who were unwilling to change and adapt will be out of a job. Unfortunately, this is a long processs and the damage will already have incurred by that time.

The only solution is that corporate innovation teams need to find a to deal with skeptic executives early on. There are no easy answers here. It is just not easy to tell executives that what is best for them might not be the best for the company. Perhaps you have some good suggestions?

image credit: doubtful man image from bigstock

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Stefan LindegaardStefan Lindegaard is an author, speaker and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, social media and intrapreneurship.

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  1. It’s simple. Write the executive out of the innovation scenario. If he doesn’t want to change, make it a non-issue. If he’s got control over the process somehow, then you don’t have an innovation program to begin with. You’ve got staff with a job description who aren’t allowed to do their job. You have an argument that has to be settled, one way or the other.

    In the end it boils down to a basic fact – the ones that survive are the ones that adapt. It’s like what I say in regards to my innovation training – “Whether you hire me or not, I’m going to be training your competition and you know what that means – without my training, you won’t stand a chance…”

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