There a nice post on Innovate on Purpose, Jeffrey Phillips blog, pointing out that “Nobody ever got fired for failing to innovate.” While that’s not entirely true (I known a few who have), the core message is definitely on the mark. Most of the time, short term urgencies create pressure that creates an environment that suppresses innovation. It is far easier to do what is needed to nominally meet our performance metrics than to take the perceived risks of finding an innovative way to exceed them.
This is wrong-headed thinking. While nobody gets fired for failing to innovate, plenty of people do. They also find themselves pushed aside into dead-end positions. Just think about it for a minute.
Imagine you are the CEO of a company and your task is to turn-around the company, or double revenues over the next three years, or attain any other similarly lofty goal. You aren’t going to achieve that objective by doubling down on the strategies that have created the status quo. You need to change course. Perhaps, the answer lies in new products or a new business model. You need to find a new recipe for success that is not only different from what you have done in the past, but you need one that is compellingly different from what your competitors are doing. In short, you need an innovation.
These demands for innovation happen all the time in today’s ultra-high pressure business climate. We may not see it directly, but the failure to innovate is punished quite severely in the work place. The next time you read a blurb about a high profile CEO being replaced by fresh talent, ask yourself on what opportunity to innovate did the outgoing CEO fail to capitalize.
More importantly, as you pursue your own objectives are you failing to ask yourself what opportunities for innovation you are passing over in the rush to address the daily urgencies. Remember to keep your eye on the important issues as well—these are often where innovation opportunities are hiding.You may not be overtly punished for failing to innovate. But, the big rewards will come to you only when you embrace innovation as essential to your personal success.