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Category: Innovation

The Innovation Handbook, sort of!

A joke that I recently found again somehow describes the situation when you try to get ahead with ideas. Before we dive in, lets first look at the joke:

There were a bunch of prisoners hanging around one day…when one suddenly says, “32”, and everyone laughs.  A couple of minutes later another prisoner says, “19” and everyone roars.

Seeing this, a relatively new prisoner says to a long-timer, “What’s going on? Why iseveryone laughing when someone shouts a number?”

“Well”, says the guy, “we have this joke book and all the jokes are numbered and since everyone’s been here so long and heard the jokes over and over, it’s easier to just shout the number.”

So, a couple of days go by and the prisoners are out in the yard and there’s a lull in the conversation, so the new prisoner shouts “44” and no one laughs.

Thinking they might not have heard him he shouts “44” again and still no one laughs.

So, he turns to the old-timer and asks, “What’s wrong?”

The old-timer replies, “Hey…some people can tell a joke and some can’t”.

Anyone who’s long enough in corporate knows that ultimately you will hear arguments over and over again. Why something cannot be done, why you should not try, and you better not ask because… You may feel like those prisoners hearing the same old jokes again and again. So let’s take an example from them and number the arguments why we won’t be creative and innovative, and why this idea cannot fly. Maybe you can have an annual Innovation Bingo contest, the fun is all yours.

  1. This new stuff just really won’t move the needle.
  2. We have tried that before and failed.
  3. Our senior leaders are not fully committed.
  4. We don’t have the right mindset or culture for innovation.
  5. We don’t have the guts to take a risk.
  6. This is not in your job description.
  7. Our systems inhibit or punish people for trying to innovate.
  8. We fear cannibalization.
  9. We are too busy with work, we don’t have time to try something new.
  10. We never talk to each other about innovation.
  11. For innovation we have our R&D department.
  12. Should I just do the job of the R&D department?
  13. Our problems are in generating sales of our existing products, not making new products.
  14. Too many internal factions are fighting amongst themselves.
  15. If it ain’t really broken…
  16. There’s no burning platform to innovate.
  17. We need proof of success before we’ll invest anything.

I am sure there are more. Do you have any suggestions? Leave them in the comments!