Henry Ford once wondered querulously, “Why is it that whenever I ask for a pair of hands, a brain comes attached?”
Imagine if Wright brothers had to take approvals from their manager, General Managers etc. to build an airplane; or Thomas Edison had to first satisfy his bosses for his 1093 patents. They would have never been able to contribute to this world what they have given with their crazy unique ideas rather their jobs could be in threat on account of insanity and stupidity.
There exists a dilemma for many Business leaders to tackle. Whether they should proceed and organize their resources in a well disciplined (Army like) way or they should compromise all this on account of openness. There are pros and cons for both the approaches and none of them can be termed as perfect.
Discipline, Chain of command is good enough and in a way it is necessary; especially when you compare your organization with an armed force. But such an organization can not be a source of generating unique crazy ideas. In such organizations, targets/objectives (one form of it is MBO- Management By Objective) are highly regarded by management. As a result, you will find many of the employees running after a piece of paper (i.e. target form) for the whole year; irrespective of the fact they may miss many other breakthrough opportunities by just limiting all their attention to a piece of paper; which may lead to lack of self initiative by the employees and they may consider themselves only as a tool for management. This sort of feeling can especially be prevailing in first line employees. In such an organization, best business is usually handled by the best personnel and the business with less attractive figures is handed over to someone less talented.The leader of such an organization likes to remain at shore, so as the sub-ordinates. As Einstein once said, “A ship is safe at shore, but this is not what it is meant for”. Toyota (being considered as one of the best practicing management organization) did not consider only objectives to be the path to success and believed that first-line employees could be more than cogs in a soulless manufacturing machine. If given the right tools and training, they could be problem solvers, innovators, and change agents. For organizations, who consider innovation as their critical success factor, it is indispensable that they should bring openness in their culture. But on the other hand, there is too much of risk involved in allocating resources to any crazy unique idea.
Before we move on to find out any solution, lets first take a glance of how Breakthrough Ideas get obstructed (you can add some more bullets).
How do Ideas die out?
Lack of Openness
Lack of Culture of respect
Idea generators not properly managed.
Experience given much more preference over Imagination.
‘Doers’ are given preference over ‘Thinkers’.
Employees threatened of failures.
Figures/Numbers are given more preference over capabilities.
Performance considered only for short term results.
Ideally, an organization should be where ideas get promoted and at the same time there exists discipline and a chain of command. The foundation for such an organization is laid by segregating Primary Thinkers and Primary Doers in your organization.
Start changing the roles of people to get different ideas across the organization.