Innovation Killers – Bad Things Only Bad Managers Say

Liz Ryan, Corporate ProvocateurWhat do we love most about working in innovation?  The long hours?  The inspired clients? The successful launches? The fast failures? I think not.

I think what the people I know who work at innovation love most about it is the premise. Innovation by definition is about the introduction of something new — starting with what Jerry Hirshberg called the “seedling” of a new idea. All of this — our commitment to exploration, our innate curiosity, our profession’s philosophical and yes, moral stance, makes Liz Ryan’s post on Bloomberg/Businessweek even more chilling.   In my Organizational Development days we used to call the kind of managers Ryan outs “the frozen middle.” That is putting it kindly.  They are innovation killers.

These statements are draconian, and worse, ignorant.  Yet we have all heard them. They make us shudder, because they are the simplest, fastest way to kill the human spirit at work and make any kind hope for a culture of innovation DOA.  Therefore, if you hear any of these phrases uttered where you work, don’t pass go, do speak up and send these so called managers straight to innovationexcellence, chain them to their screens, and don’t let them get up until they have a change of heart.

New ideas, innovations big and small, and the people who are necessary to actually sweating over them require heart. Fear can be a great motivator for some things.  But not for innovation. Forewarned is forearmed.  Liz Ryan’s piece is a journalistic warning across the bow …starting with the first two epithets:

Who gave you permission to do that? “ and my favorite… “I didn’t hire you to think.” Read on.

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Julie Anixter is Chief Innovation Officer at Maga Design and the managing editor and a founder of Innovation Excellence.

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