Management is currently scrambling to take a position into innovative technologies thanks to the cultural shift that has reared its ugly head over the past 18 months. The belief of the disruption in employee hiring and retention supported by the work-from-home movement has taken the facility away from corporations. Technology isn’t any longer a “nice to have”, but a requirement, and together with that, the fact that innovation initiatives frequently fail, or the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality hampers their performance.
From an administrative perspective, there could also be a transparent business strategy, but without the organization working in harmony towards a typical goal, the innovative strategy can fail. Success relies on three pillars to succeed; management’s will to speculate the resources, team leaders that evaluate the requirements to fulfil the mandate, and therefore the front-line workers who inevitably are required to utilize the technologies without proof of efficiency improvements.
In order to form an innovative culture, team leaders need to ensure that each one of the employees know that innovation is not an option. It must be woven into the culture of the business, with a transparent understanding within their performance descriptions and procedures, also because the perceived improvements that the innovation will help attain a higher life/work balance. Based on the changing work model, team leaders also are tasked with ensuring that there is not a decrease in productivity.
Innovative companies understand that success is not an on-the-spot result and must have the determination and endurance to adapt as the company evolves from the prevailing state towards the long run state. Failure is not the tip, but part of the educational process to implement further changes and must consider learning as an ongoing experiment.
Innovation is the resulting change in how the organization evolves and does not require changes in how people behave. For organizations to embrace innovation, teams must embrace the way that they interact at the local level, communicate across the created virtual workspace, and operate in a less structured environment.
With technologies that equal the playing field, management, team leaders and frontline employees must develop a sense of trust, eliminate the traditional hierarchy, and permit for a free flow of information across the corporation and celebrate risk and reward.
To compete on an ever-growing global scale, management must make efforts to inspire all levels of the organization to feel free to be creative where their voices are heard. With the scarcity of talented employees, organizations must learn to be lean, using the incredible technological advances we have seen over the past 18 months. Those who embrace this innovative strategy stand on the verge of becoming industry leaders at warp speed.
We now have the flexibility to permit employees to figure in a very reduced stress environment, contributing at every step of the process. Increased visibility across the entire supply chain creates a real-time communicative environment. This independence brings a newfound sense of purpose and community.
While most of the above has focused on the positive, as my subject line indicates, all is not as simple as it has been laid out. There are always individuals who fight change, are comfortable with the status quo, and do their best to sabotage the innovative initiative. My personal experience as founder of Timereaction exposed them to be the insecure employees, the ones that are just skating by, frightened that transparency will expose their inadequacies. This type of sabotage is discreet, whispering at the water cooler, referred to as workplace deviance, can destroy the efforts of months of planning, and engaged employee performance. These deviants may make up a minute percentage of the organization, but their impact cannot be overlooked. Like cornered rats clinging on to self-preservation, they seek out those that question the innovative intentions, and draw them into the dark side.
If such behavior is not detected and surgically removed like a cancer, workplace bullying can distract innovation throughout the organization, often targeting the best employees because they are the most threatening to their position. Of all the workplace environments that I have had the pleasure of participating in change management initiatives, these are the most dangerous of individuals, and the greatest cause of failure.
Allan Diamond is the Co-founder of Timereaction, www.timereaction.com.