Thanks to Chuck Frey of Innovation Tools for pointing us to an article by Dr. Joel Orr, VP of Business Development for KollabNet, Inc. The article, "The Double Challenge of Innovation" explains that in addition to the typical resistance to innovation embedded in the DNA of most organizations, innovators must also overcome an inherent cynicism with respect to innovation that emerges when managers feel threatened by the possibility of innovation success. Despite preaching the virtues of innovation publicly, these managers may actively try to thwart it at every turn if they feel their status is on the line, simply because they couldn't produce the same success prior to the introduction of the new idea. As Orr writes:
Innovation is an unnatural act. It induces fear, unmitigated by the promise of great gains in productivity. The fear is fear of personal loss - prestige; power; respect. The promises are of gains for the organization, not for the individual.
It would be like screaming at the night to suggest that those who fear innovation should get over it. But that is truly how I feel right at this moment. It's pretty frustrating to have to constantly confront the naysayers on what feels like their terms, i.e., from the premise that we must prove to them something that may be unprovable just to get the chance to try something new or different. Of course, if it doesn't work out, the naysayers will be more than happy to point out that they "told us so." Orr now gives us something to have to worry about, namely the real concern that even if an idea succeeds, a so-called leader might still pull the plug on it simply because he/she feels personally threatened by that success. It is amazing how tied up in knots we allow ourselves to become!
My advice: illegitimi non carborundum.
Be proud to be a daily innovator and don't let anyone else's
insecurities deter you from your mission. Despite the
obvious frustrations, I urge you to remain confident in your commitment to
innovation, as well as the certainty that you will prevail in the long