Innovation cannot be centralised or contained.
The whole essence of the internet was a new canvas for innovation to grow.
This revelation is true to me on a daily basis as we struggle to find ways to channel innovative ideas to the main stream of our business.
When you try set up a department or hub in an organisation you will tend to strangle and kill innovation. One reason is human. The team that leads this “innovation” reach a point where they believe they know it all. At one point this becomes hubris. Hubris leads to shooting down innovative ideas and solutions because it does not align to your thinking.
Now why would I say such a statement? Well, for one it is from experience. I have been in the seat leading teams building great innovative solutions as well as thinking that we are the only source of innovation. I have also worked with great thinkers and innovators who were (and some are still ) stuck to the thought that they are they only source of innovation. The lesson here was “Do not believe your own hype“
What made me snap out of this thinking? Working at Carepay .
At Carepay we hold bootcamps regularly where people take a day off (yes a day off ) to create crazy ideas in one day. It’s been two years in and what teams build always amazes all of us. We actually realise that you cannot centralise innovation. It has to be loose, unmatched, decentralised and free. Free off bureaucracy. Free of judgement. Free of know it alls. Freedom. The funny thing is that in those two years my teams have never won anything. Nada. Zilch. Zippo ( As our central banker would say)
However, after two years my team finally joined the podium of winners(yeeeeees!!!!) but I had to change my thinking and listen to others. We truly don’t know it all.
As our team goes to enjoy our prize, the challenge is how to get all these innovative ideas into our workflow pipeline. How to spur creativity without killing it with structures and control. That is the hard part.