Creating Generational Legacies

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Innovation is deeply counter cultural and a mindset shift is necessary

Innovation is deeply counter cultural and being entrepreneurial is a mindset - the question is ..... can an entrepreneurial mindset  and a bureaucratic mindset work together?

I think both are needed to create an innovative culture that works.... See Steve Denning's figure 3 below

If you turn figure 1 upside down and the small boxes become customers .... And the big box is the leader supporting the team vs "ordering the team" and in each box, you have figure 4. .... Maybe you have the workings of a successful ecosystem.

It's not easy trying to innovate while keeping order in an ecosystem ....

- However it is key to empower the innovators and the crazy ones to be different and challenge the status quo.

- It is key to encourage collaboration to challenge the order and find new ways of working 

- it is all about creating an entrepreneurial mindset

- create groups of people meeting regularly, collaborating and being facilitated by a top coach .... Outside their normal job .... with a view to get to know like and trust one another .... So they can feel comfortable in expressing their views and thoughts - without the fear of being ridiculed.
(Look at the power of this i4j group!)

If you understand the problem.... The solutions start flowing. 

Steve a Denning writes
"It often feels like we’re trying to get a dog to stand on its hind legs," as Gary Hamel said back in 2012. "You can do that, but you can’t get a dog to do that for long. It’s a DNA level problem. A dog has the DNA of a quadruped. Once you turn your back on the critter, and you put away the treats, the dog is back on all four legs. Any innovation effort must start by acknowledging that innovation itself is deeply counter-cultural: we’re never going to build a truly innovative company without a gene-replacement therapy. Without that you’re going fail. You’re going to try something and then be disheartened when you discover that three months or six months later, the dog is still peeing on lamp-posts rather than doing the tango." 

There is no getting away from it: innovation is a mindset problem

The track record of trying to ease people into a mindset shift by way of a process alone (and getting to the question of mindsets later) is not a happy one. 

Mindset are nested in systems: individuals, organizations, communities, societies, language groups etc. So one may be looking at change at many levels depending on the level one is focused on. This just underlines what a big, long-term challenge it is.

 If people find the prospect of fundamental mindset shift too daunting, then maybe they shouldn't begin? Maybe they should wait until the pain gets so great that they have no choice?

Geoffrey West’s work at the Santa Fe Institute suggest that mature corporations have a very difficult time changing their mindsets: 

Cities, on the other hand, tend to survive indefinitely. Perhaps the difference between Singapore and a corporation can be understood through this complexity lens…

If managers have an entrepreneurial mindset, it hardly matters what process they use: the mindset makes it come out right (although it does help if it is a good process (playbook)). But if they don’t have an entrepreneurial mindset, hardly any benefits ensue, no matter what the process. The bureaucratic mindset instinctively implements the process wrong. 

Changing a mindset is hard work and doesn’t happen overnight.  In many cases, it takes months or years. In some cases, it doesn’t happen at all: the bureaucratic mindset, based on years of MBA training, experience and groupthink, simply cannot be changed. The only solution is death or retirement.

The most frequent impediment to change we encountered is the thinking: “I don’t have to change. It’s my staff who have to change. So let’s put them through the process - the playbook and everything will be hunky-dory.”  Never works.  

Even if the process changes the mindsets of some of the people taking the training, it results in an organization at war with itself. You have to change mindsets throughout the whole organization. Otherwise the bureaucratic mindset at the top will prevail

​Bottom line: entrepreneurship is mindset.​

Steve Denning
Forbes blog: 

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