Posted on 09 Feb 05
A client company (XYZ) recently asked the question: “How can we get the people here to innovate (change)?”
Heres my answer to them:
The simple response is that without extraordinary effort you cant. The more complex and more hopeful answer is that you cant make individuals change but you can create an environment where individuals may choose to change themselves.
People change only when the pain of where / what they are, is too severe or the reward / opportunity in the new is too great to ignore. Unconscious change may occur when incremental processes are introduced at a time and pace comfortable to the status quo. This model is not effective in the dynamic markets of tomorrow.
Also consider the following 4 innovation possibilities:
1. Do nothing – the world is changing and the marketplace demands the new. XYZ can ignore this fact and continue to do what theyve always done. The marketplace will then position you where it feels you belong in tomorrow.
2. Go it alone – if XYZ agrees that change is necessary, then a strategic initiative should be developed to do things “different.” I believe most, if not all XYZ employees today are comfortable with change, as long as they as individuals can continue to do what theyve always done.
If XYZ wants to go it alone – they will have to change the people (the hearts and minds of the aforementioned employees) or change the people (terminate them and find new folks willing and able to start anew). You cannot change XYZ without a change in or changing of the people that are XYZ.
The simple process is one of leadership. Within your Values and Purpose, establish a Vision, commit to it, develop a plan to achieve the Vision, and then implement, monitor, and adjust the plan. Remember the Chinese proverb “Fall down seven times, stand up eight” and the AIG slogan – “the greatest risk is not taking one.”
3. Partner / align with strategic partners – if XYZ and other organizations share a Vision or a commitment to innovation you can “spread” the risk of change by forming a strategic alliance for a specific project, service, or population. The process described in # 2 above will work with this joint venture model.
4. Outsource the innovation process – if XYZ doesnt have the “stomach” for the risk of change then you can do what your insurance clients do – transfer the risk by outsourcing the exposure. You can find a provider of products / services needed to innovate and contract with them to build and test a model that you could later use and benefit from. For a fee theyll accept your risk.
Mike Manes is the founder of Square One Consulting. Today he works with agents and agencies to facilitate mergers and acquisitions (issues of cultural compatibility), design and coordinate ventures between banks and agencies, develop niche market programs, build marketing networks, etc.
He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 225-273-2243. His web site is www.squareoneconsulting.com.