The TRUE ROOT CAUSE of the lack of innovative thinking

Over the past week I had one of those shattering insights that made me stop and think long into the night.  The insight occurred during a conversation with Dr. Leann Mischel, Assistant Professor at Coastal Carolina who teaches Innovation Engineering.  

The root cause of people not embracing innovative thinking or being entrepreneurial (either inside a company or in their own business) is simply “THEY DON’T KNOW HOW”


Today’s leaders, managers and front line employees have NEVER BEEN TAUGHT a systematic way to create, communicate and commercialize ideas quickly and with low risk.   

Later that night, as I sat with a wee nip of The Macallan Scotch,I couldn’t stop thinking about my conversation with Leann.   It became clear to me that “NOT KNOWING HOW” is the true barrier - the root cause of why people don’t innovate or activate their natural entrepreneurial instincts.   

Through the wonders of the “Cloud” I was able to pull up a wonderful article on how adults cope and make decisions when they don’t know how.  Some quick searching on the internet found an Inc. Magazine that identified three of the top four reasons people don’t take innovate include: I don’t have an ideas (40%), I’m discouraged by the high failure rate of ideas (22%), I don’t have the right skills (21%).   This was a survey on why people don’t start their own business.  My guess is that it’s highly likely that the same holds true within companies.  

The research of Visqwanathan, Rosa and Harris indicates that the numbers reported above may beunderstated.   Quite simply - when employees are asked to engage in innovative thinking - and are uncomfortable because they don’t know how -- the result is emotional stress that people will not often discuss openly.   

Stress from not knowing results in behaviors such as:   (Italics mine)

  • Avoidance (not getting involved personally)
  • Compartmentalize (protect their ego by defining innovation as not their job) 
  • Simplistic Decision Making(don’t dig in to understand details)
  • Commit to only short term tests (to avoid making a long term mistake)
  • Blame the PEOPLE (to avoid taking pesonalresponsibility for their innovation system)

Hmmmm… sounds like the responses I hear from many executives when talking about implementing a new system of innovation

As I sipped my Macallan I suddenly realized that it could well be that today’s business books and guru’s are negatively impacting the growth of innovation

•  Instead of teaching reliable methods for innovating quickly and with low risk - Gurus mostly raise the stress level preaching WHY it’s URGENT to innovate.  Hey “guru” I don’t need your assessment to tell me that my my offerings are commodities with no differentiation that customers will pay for, my operations are a mess and my employee engagement is under 20%.

•  Instead of rolling up of their sleeves and helping leaders and employees work through their FEARS of change - they entertain with “after the fact” stories of … Apple, Google, Amazon, Craft Beer, etc, etc, etc.     Listen up GURUS… Since 2008 survey’s find that 98% of leaders “get” the need to innovate.  However - only 20% have confidence in their organization’s ability to innovate. They don’t know HOW to innovate.

•  Instead of teaching employees a step by step system for creating patentable breakthroughs- they tell magical, mystical stories of crowd sourcing. Let’s be honest, have you ever heard of even one example of crowd sourcing creating a patentable breakthrough for a company?  Like EVER? 

To paraphrase Dr. Deming, how could they know… how could they.. how could they know that there was a disciplined step by step system for inventing patentable break throughs that anyone can use.  

What makes INNOVATION ENGINEERING Meaningfully Unique is we Enable the HOW. 

Innovation Engineering takes you the entire way - from business need to idea to developing it into a bigger idea, enrolling the organization and making it happen with increased speed and decreased risk. 

The Innovation Engineering mission in short form is to to ENABLE INNOVATION BY EVERYONE.   In long form it’s “To change the world through systems that enable innovation by everyone, everywhere, every day, resulting in increased innovation speed and decreased risk.”     

• Enabling is about making innovation possible, practical and easy

• Enabling means supporting everyone from leadership to the front line

• Enabling means EDUCATION that is 70% applied through coaching… not a class & a “good luck”

• Enabling means DOCUMENTED methods and 100+ TOOLS that make innovation easy

If you’d like to join the Innovation Engineering movement - sign up for and attend my upcoming introductory webinar.  During the webinar I will explain how you can teach the world HOW to innovate - step by step - through classes, real world coaching and advanced software tools / portal.  

You can join the movement in many ways.  You can….

  • Teach & Coach at your local Collage or University
  • Teach & Coach within your Multi-National Corporation
  • Teach & Coach within your Non-Profit Organization
  • Teach & Coach within your Small Business
  • Teach & Coach your Clients 
  • Teach & Coach across your Community

The webinar is Friday October 27, 2017 at 1:00 PM EDT.  To sign up for the webinar click here….