Now, you didn’t really think that this was going to be a post with a list of the top 100 least innovative companies in it, did you? I mean, how would I go about doing that anyways – call up companies that I think are not innovating and ask if they want to be on this list? I doubt if anyone would admit to it.
But I’ll bet that when you saw that headline you probably thought to yourself – hmm – I wonder if MY company is on that list? Tell the truth, how many of you clicked on that link thinking that you’d see your company at the top of that list – or at least in the top ten? I’ll bet a lot of you, especially if you are working at a large, established company that has been around for a while. Heck, even if it hasn’t been around for long – size tends to squash innovation.
I understand totally. You are probably an innovator at your company. You probably have a lot of great ideas, but for some reason or another, those ideas just don’t get listened to. Or maybe they do get listened to, but nothing ever happens to them. So after giving up a few ideas, and nothing happens to them, you just shut up and stop giving them your ideas. Why should I, you tell yourself, because they aren’t going to do anything about it anyways, right?
The reality is that that there are a ton of interesting ideas and new innovations locked into the minds of everyone around you. Human beings are naturally curious and creative. They are also natural problem solvers. When they see a problem, they try to fix it. When they see an opportunity, they try to take it. Problem is, when you don’t have the authority or power to make the changes in order to fix the problem or launch that new idea as a product, and those who do, don’t, that opportunity for innovation is lost.
So your company is innovative. It’s people are innovative. So how does that innovation take root?
In my experience, in order to facilitate change from within, you need to be an evangelist. Just like a startup founder on the outside looking for funding, you need to be a startup founder on the inside, looking for the right ear – or ears – to hear your idea. We used to call that “socializing” it. If you believe in the idea, and its a strong enough idea – you just need to get it to the right person – or people – who can help to move it forward. Just like finding the right VC, finding the right champion will help you get your ideas heard. And maybe worked on. And maybe even eventually launched.
If that fails though – you can always take your next idea and start your own company. Who knows, maybe you’ll get acquired – by the place you left.