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liberate thinking

LIBERATE THINKING - isn't that what has been happening at the speed of change in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and on the tipping point for the rest of the Middle East and beyond?  The news reports and interviews with everyday citizens energized by their first tastes of freedom to think and speak - 

simply amazing and priceless.  In some ways, there is a poignant reflection on the climates that still exist in some organizations today where "dictators" still rule and suppress the innovation and creativity that resides inside their workforce.  As with the Middle East, organization cultures involve deeply embedded customs and values shaped over long periods.  Climate, however, can change rapidly with the emergence of leadership and active communication


INNOVATION and agility might be the two most often used "hollow" words in corporate-speak annual reports today.  They are not hollow because they lack meaning - quite the contrary.  The hollowness comes from the tendency of many organizations to claim the words but not the corresponding strategies and action.  Both words are incredibly important for this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world we face each day - but the saliency comes from creating the conditions to get fresh, innovative thinking by creating the expectation, climate and process for innovation. 


Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble's new book "The Other Side of Innovation" has some useful insights for creating those conditions and making INNOVATION part of your climate for success.


The following equation paraphrases some of their conclusion ... innovation = motivation + process.  It is clear that the successful enterprise of the future will understand that leadership must create both halves of that equation

Gary Hamel's Management Innovation Exchange



In most organizations, employees with cool new ideas have only one route for funding -- up the chain of command. If the project doesn't align with the boss' priorities, it won't get funded.  Innovation within an organization is restricted by the limited sources of funding for new ideas.  


Gary Hamel refers to innovation funding this way, "Imagine what would happen to innovation in the Silicon Valley if there were only one venture capital firm. It's not unusual for a would-be entrepreneur to get turned down half a dozen times before finding a willing investor-yet in most companies, it takes only one nyet to kill a project stone dead. The solution here isn't an internal venture fund or incubator. That doubles the number of funding sources, but doesn't go far enough. In a large company, there will be hundreds of people who have a discretionary budget of more than $100,000 per year. Imagine giving each of these individuals permission to invest 2 or 5% of their budget in any project that seems promising. Suddenly internal entrepreneurs would have dozens of 'angel' investors they could tap for funding, and no longer could a single reactionary deep six a new idea."  


To truly reflect a culture of liberated thinking, an agile company must have a resource allocation process that is more like Silicon Valley than the Soviet Union.


A very useful resource for innovation in management is Gary Hamel's The Management Innovation Exchange. This website offers a platform for exchanging innovation ideas, questions, solutions and discussion.




The speed and complexity of business today puts extra stress on matrix organizations and people trying to collaborate effectively and sometimes just even ... politely.  Divergent priorities and the myriad of sources of diversity (generational, gender, cultural, racial and archetypical) are all forces that cause tension in the social fabric of organizational success - especially in older model matrix structures today.  How can we discover the turbo benefits of aligned innovation today ... try using the power of parallel thinking.  Edward DeBono is the "father of parallel thinking" as the originator of the Six Hats Thinking paradigm.  This is a technique that will help you reap higher productivity and civility in your collaboration, ideation and brainstorming sessions ... give it a try!"   

May 2011


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Nick Horney, Ph.D., Principal 336-286-7250
Tom O'Shea, CMC, Principal 336-282-1211

Agility Consulting & Training, LLC
1901 Rosevilla Lane -  Greensboro, NC  27455