Suffering from Different Levels of Innovation Insomnia

I think I have discovered the different types of innovation insomnia, maybe I’m on to something here.

We have three types; do you suffer from these symptoms?

They are closely related to attending conferences or workshops that motivate you on innovation. You arrive back at your desk within your organization ‘fired up’ and then sleep disorder seems to ‘kick in’. Your new found energies quickly drain away.

Transient insomnia– this lasts for about a week or so after a conference or workshop you had attended and got so highly motivated. You suffer conference- workshop deprivation first but you are lucky enough to soon forget about it all as you quickly pass back onto another disorder that keeps you ‘locked into’ your depression and stressed environment, a familiar one of your world of reality.

You do not have any time to piece it all together in what really needs to change in your environment as you arrive back at the office, to face yet another ‘crisis’. What you had learned just gets forgotten or filed away as you grapple with your world of innovation in crisis.

Acute insomnia – You feel restlessness for some time after one of these conferences as you really can’t get any new momentum going. You tried. Even not as a direct result of the conference meeting you attended for three days, listening to some incredible, well qualified speakers. Others agree with you but also are suffering from this insomnia.You are suffering this acute disorder where nothing really is allowed to be different to allow you to render any change in your own environment. You still face the same factors of innovation disorder when dealing within innovation inside your organization. You lack the environment to try and apply what you heard, so you go back to taking the pills to give you peace, you ignore that nagging feeling.

You continue to have no opportunities for creativity, dreaming and aspiring to greater things, you are fighting your constant daily nightmares, caused by your existing day at the uninspiring office.You begin to plan the next ‘break out’ and ‘escape’ from the office to listen to how others are succeeding in their innovation, wishing you could have changed something, however small as a direct learning from that conference. You really wish you could have help with this disorder to change the damaging effect it is having on you and those around you.

Thirdly Chronic insomnia, it is the most serious. This really does last for a long time, we just can’t sleep at all, and we feel all our energies draining away. You are facing reality. This is our primary disorder, the very reason for our insomnia, innovation as your organization manages it, is in total disorder. We not just suffer continued (innovation) fatigue; we really have got totally caught up in the hallucinations and mental issues that occur in your organization, believing this is ‘true’ innovation. You are in constant battles. You begin to become deeply affected as you begin to see things happening in just slow motion, where moving objects just seem to blend together and stop, waiting for the inevitable train wreck from another innovation disaster.

You begin to suffer that deeper symptom of impaired vision that causes serious delusions. Somehow you redouble your efforts to get into the right mental state but can’t solve the primary disorder of total disregard for what constitutes innovation management- it is out of your hands. All you do is try to hang in and focus on just the bits you like. These symptoms require urgent outside help to try and change this chronic disorder but can it be changed, as it is systemic?

So are you suffering from one of these innovation sleep disorders?

Actually many of our organizations in the Western hemisphere are allowing employees to suffer with all three types of sleep disorder. Agreeing to them going off to conferences or workshops is terrific but then not wanting to really learn from these experiences, to discuss them and experiment with them so as to learn to apply them to their situations is such a shame. Of course some attempt this but much of the healthy questioning, the excitement from learning something that might be applicable fades and all the initiative seems to drain out that initial ‘raw’ energy.

Organizations are not allowing innovation to grow if the very people within them are not motivated and engagements; they seem content to just ‘limp’ along, as their employees suffer growing “innovation sleep deprivation”. They fail to provide the environments that nurture and feed, to allow for a more contented, trusting workplace where people want to come into work, full of energy, passion and determination to make innovation happen.

Our environments within organizations are simply not providing enough of what gives employees motivation. So we are continue to face innovation insomnia – sleeplessness as nothing we seem to do is refreshing us, facing us all it seems is a ‘prolonged sleep onset latency disorder. Many are talking a ‘good innovation game’, yet most of our activities seem exhausted, incapable of changing our position due to fear, risk or deprivation. What will allow us to develop all the appropriate conditions that allow us to reengage across innovation in bolder, more exciting ways?

So are you wanting to be kept awake a little more on things that are interesting, stimulating and challenging? I think so. Then we need to wake up our organizations for them to change the way they are engaging their people in interesting work, otherwise we will continue with the three insomnia’s mentioned here and plenty more that keep you awake at night.

Can you think of any more innovation sleep disorders that keep you awake at night?

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Paul Hobcraft

Paul Hobcraft is recognized for his consistency to champion and informs on innovation. He focuses on building innovation capacity, competencies, and capabilities and promotes innovation in informative, creative and knowledgeable ways, piecing together the broader understanding of innovation. Paul continually constructs a series of novel and relevant frameworks to help advance this innovation understanding and writes mainly through his posting site of where he regularly publishes his thinking and research based on solutions that underpin his advisory, coaching and consulting work at




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