Director of Innovation. Volume 2, June 2009
OFFICE OF NAVAL RESEARCH ARLINGTON VA
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Large organizations are increasingly in Search of a Dragon called innovation. At first reading, you probably wonder why I would refer to innovation as a dragon since in our western culture dragons are typically thought of as mythical, scary creatures that breathe fire and look to cause trouble among human kind. But in the Far East, Dragons are revered for their assumed gifts of size, power, and agility. Large organizations, whether they are in the public or private sector can only sustain real innovation if they are dragon-like. But large organizations have a unique ability to kill innovation and creativity while they are simultaneously trying to engender it. The causes for this type of irony are many, but include some of the following Asking for risk taking, then shooting the first risk taker who makes a mistake Telling people to think up new ideas and then ignoring them Having so many bureaucratic rules and regulations that would-be innovators either get worn out or run out in trying to get a new idea through the system Command and control structures that reward obedience and conformity over new thinking which challenges the status quo Leadership that demands loyalty over objectivity Pushing people for 10-12 hours a day at work and then asking for creativity.
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