Five Types of People Who Kill Innovation

by Stefan Lindegaard

Five Types of People Who Kill InnovationWho are the people that kill innovation in corporate organizations? Here is my take on five types. Let me know what you think and what you can you add.

1. Executives, who do not get innovation:

The actions of executives continue to be the single-most important element when it comes to making innovation happen in organizations.

2. Incompetent innovation directors:

These people must be able to fulfill the needs of current and future markets. They must be able to bring internal as well as external resources together in order to make this happen. At the same time, innovation directors need to know how to play the political game that is always played in organizations. This is a tough job and there is no room for incompetent people.

3. Informal leaders:

Some people just have more influence than others even though they are not formal leaders. But by being just what they are – informal leaders – they can make or break projects that can help build a stronger innovation culture. Unfortunately, some informal leaders like the status quo, which can become a big hindrance for innovation.

4. Key people, who miss the bigger picture:

Every innovation project has several key people attached to it. They are valuable because they contribute with very specific knowledge. However, they also become a liability if they only focus on their own contribution and fail to understand the value of contributions from other functions or from people outside the organization. We need more t-shaped people.

We can also argue that middle managers fall into this category. It is a bit strange, but they often hinder innovation by just doing their job (get things done), which often does not include a big picture view. To be fair, this one circles back to the executives, who must make an effort not to put middle managers in such a situation.

5. YOU:

You kill innovation when you stop challenging the status quo, when you stop believing and when you stop pushing the limit.

It only takes a few people with the wrong mindset in the “right” places to kill innovation. Don’t be one of them.

image credit: job interview image from bigstock
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  1. Nobody needs to DO anything to kill innovation, so I find this analysis unsatisfying. The change implied in innovation requires people to put in energy to overcome inertia. People going about their daily duties are not killing innovation, but they are not overcoming inertia either. Innovation dies without support, but rarely are people taking the time and energy to kill it. We might make more progress if we replaced this metaphor (murder) with a more appropriate metaphor. I like gardening because a good garden requires positive action, not everything is in your control, and you invest to create the possibility of a good outcome (food or flowers).

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