I want to share five common mistakes in innovation that were recently presented in an article in BusinessWeek. It seems to me that they are just as applicable in the context of developing initiatives for knowledge management inside the firm, and knowledge diffusion between organisations.
1) An over-reliance on pilot initiatives – pilots tend to focus on a single technique when a range of techniques (the portfolio approach) may better suit project or organisational requirements
2) An unhealthy fascination with unique, charismatic examples – this occurs where charismatic leaders are used as templates for success for others to copy (dare I say it, celebrity enrtrepreneurs!)
3) A misapplication of the approach of other companies – emulating the approach or strategy of another company may not work for you
4) A descent into a cycle of self-recrimination – compared to others, our people just can’t make it happen says the management team.
5) A resignation to superficial changes – cosmetic change occurs instead of real structural change (this one is particularly relevant to marketing departments that delight in changing the colours and font styles in web pages, but are happy to keep the lousy content).
The point I want to make about these commonsense observations is that they all demonstrate the importance of context. Context is what matters since that is how sense is made from what is happening. Looking at examples and experiences from other contexts will need thought, modification and rearticulation for adaptation into the new context. And, importantly, the new way needs to fit with the existing workplace culture – something I have mentioned in a previous post.
And when it comes down to superficial change, you won’t be foooling anyone. Changing colours and doing makeovers might work for television programmes on home renovations, but cosmetic changes to the organisation are largely illusory.