“Where there’s a will there’s a way.”
Most of the discussion around innovation revolves around strategies, tactics and the abilities organizations need to develop to do so, but not much is said about an organizations starting point: purpose.
Whether it’s incremental or radical innovation, most organizations do none. I know, and I’m sure you do to, organizations full of very smart people with great ability but zero desire to ‘innovate’. Here we are thinking they should be tearing up, but no. Yet here we are writing/talking about specific tactics to be innovative, yet most of the time what it comes down to is if an organization decides to do it.
No doubt ability has a lot to do with one’s or a group’s ability to innovate. But, what about will? A deep sense of purpose and determined by one’s own choice.
A few weeks ago I had a great chat with Deb Scofield (@dscofield) about two of her clients and how they’ve successfully innovated in very old commodity industries. She wrote about one of them, Menasha Packaging Corp (160 year old startup) on Management Innovation Exchange.
I’ll provide the context here but please read the whole article:
In 2005, Menasha Packaging Corp (MPC), part of $1 Billion, 160 year old, Menasha Corporation, was not doing well. As the largest, and original, business in Menasha Corporation, they were a niche player in a commodity-based market without the economies of scale and scope to compete with the ‘big guys’. If something didn’t change, they’d be sold off. While their 160yr history as a privately-held family business provided a rich heritage, it inhibited their ability to grow because of entrenched perspectives. The relatively new leadership team had a lot at risk – the status quo – so they embarked on the creation of a new strategic plan to move the company away from commodity to value-based products and services. It was a bold move for a traditional company in a traditional industry. The new leadership team, led by Mike Waite (President), was diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, experience and viewpoints. Mike leveraged this diversity into lively discussion and debate to understand all angles of issues and create a common, shared vision.
Menasha is in very old, boring industry yet ‘they decided’ to be the cool kids on the block. What sticks out is how ‘they decided’ to change after experiencing a ‘moment of truth’ of being sold off. Win or go home! They got out of their own way and decided to win.
Like people, organizations also lack the creativity and will to think beyond the obvious. It’s not that they can’t or won’t, it just that they haven’t decided to do so. Though a crisis may end up opening an organizations eyes, I believe it’s not needed. What’s needed is purpose from the outset. A decision to just go.
What do you think?
- Tyler Durden’s 8 Rules of Innovation (lateralaction.com)
- Can Corporate Boards Help Organizations to be More Innovative? ” Innovation Leadership Network (timkastelle.org)
- Breeding Good Ideas and Fostering Innovation in Your Company (webpronews.com)