Change is hard. Innovation requires change, but change is scary. So I feel I can serve you best today by giving you a few suggestions to make sure your organization can stop innovation in its tracks.

  • What are some easy ways you can head innovation off at the pass to make sure that your organizational impact over time becomes less and less?
  • What can a leader do to ensure their organization is prevented from bringing new or greater value to the world?

You cannot be too careful with these things! If you are ineffective at shutting down innovation that reduces cost or brings greater value, you will have to deal with organizational growing pains and transformation, which will be difficult for you and your team. Furthermore, allowing innovation at your organization will end up attracting the very people you don’t want—those that could bring even greater value and even more innovation! I shudder just thinking about them!

Adam Bryant’s book Quick and Nimble includes a chapter called “Sparking Innovation.” This chapter includes information on how to quench that spark of innovation and ensure that your company is and remains an IFZ (Innovation Free Zone).

Bryant describes organizations as having two muscles: a delivery muscle that gets work done and a discovery muscle that allows for innovation. It’s this discovery muscle that we need to look out for. If you work it, it grows. But if you don’t use it, the muscle begins to atrophy, which is great news for IFZ organizations! Perhaps the best way to let the discovery muscle atrophy is to ignore problems and pain points of your customers. The less you know (or care), the less likely it is that you or someone on your team will have a dangerous lightbulb moment, which might require doing things differently.

Also remember this: every organization has its front line people. These front-line employees may be the most dangerous ones in your company because they see first hand how your organization could change the way things are done to bring new or greater value to the world. If you can put a stop to the communication between these employees and the leaders of the company, you can go a long way in ensuring the status quo, which will keep your organization innovation free.

Finally, we all know that everything has its place. Your organization needs order and structure—and the more, the better! You need to reduce chaos in order to reduce inefficiencies. But beware! There are dangerous people out there who believe that short-term chaos may lead to great design and creativity, and that this is a good thing! There is no place for this and no place for them in an innovation-free organization!

I hope you have found this helpful in quenching whatever sparks could ignite the fire of innovation in your organization. Prevention is the key, and these days you cannot be too careful. Help your company avoid change by helping them be an IFZ.


Image by LaniElderts. Used under CC BY-ND 2.0 license.