Immunity to change: these rational commitments that prevent innovation

There is a paradox in the field of innovation: everyone is in favor of it, I never meet a manager who explains to me that he does not want to innovate, quite the contrary; They all want to innovate. And yet in most companies, innovation is blocked. An important cause of this paradox lies in a conflict of commitment between the present and the future. Let’s look at it in more detail.

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying (about Rules and Procedures) and Love Ambiguity and Uncertainty

Uncertainty, defined as the indeterminacy of the future, is almost universally experienced as a major problem among philosophers as well as among businessmen and politicians who wish, in the famous words of Descartes, a philosopher, “render ourselves the lords and possessors of nature.” But it has not always been so. Renaissance humanism in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries had a very different attitude, embracing the complexity, diversity and chaos of the world with interest. Yet, everything changed in the seventeenth century, when humanism gave way to rationalism. Why? The answer to this question is provided by the work of the philosopher Stephen Toulmin.

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Managers: You’ve got more power than you think

We live in an age which idealizes managers, yet never have these managers felt so powerless. Whatever their level in the hierarchy, they are confronted with increasing pressure in terms of control, reporting, senseless procedures, all resulting in a loss of autonomy which is immensely frustrating. As one of them was telling me recently “I have a superb company car, a personal assistant, a huge office in a very nice location in a great city, I am paid handsomely, feeling like Zeus on the tope of the Olympus, and yet when I want to buy a copier I need to ask the head office, and it’s not getting better. I am losing autonomy as time passes. All I’m doing more and more is filling Excel sheets.”

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Innovation: This Silence That is Killing Your Organization

Memo to the CEO:

You tell me that you want your business to be more innovative. That it is necessary to free the energies of your collaborators, to transform your organization into an enterprise 2.0 or 3.0, to adopt a startup spirit, and what not. You seem to be enjoying the stories of Google, 3M, Apple of course, just like you liked to hear childhood’s tales. Again and again. Fascinating and moving. You say innovation is a strategic pillar. It is in the foreword of your annual report, illustrated with nice pictures with children. For children are the future. You organize creativity seminars, you set up ideas boxes, you also set up an innovation cell, hosted in a loft with designer furniture, and of course you open a Lab. You assure me that innovation is a priority. At least that’s what your managers are telling me. But this is not true.

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We must talk to the boss!

We often think that it will be enough to talk to the boss to solve the big problems of the organization. This is unfortunately false, and this often reflects organizational naivety and, above all, a refusal to take responsibility on the part of managers who have much more power than they think.

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The Creosote, this High-Performing Manager Who Destroys Your Business

One of the important factors of organization decline is the type of managers it recruits and promotes. Among them is what I call the ‘Creosote manager’, the one who kills life all around him to flourish. Creosote people populate just about every organization that I encounter and that have so much trouble innovating. Would there not then be a causal link?

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My New Forbes Piece: The Cargo Cult of Digital Transformation

My latest post on Forbes, written with Milo Jones, is a reflection on difficulty of transformation by incumbent companies in the face of digital disruption. It’s available here.