Organisations are increasingly facing complex challenges. This can either inspire or paralyse innovation.

A culture of uncertainty can create behaviours from employees which are not be supportive of the changes required to survive and thrive.

global innovation index

 

Australia has again dropped another place, down to 23 in the 2020 global innovation index. I’m wondering if we are creating the right environments for innovation to grow?.

Fertile ground for innovation are learning organisations – Those companies who embrace complexity and invite employees to be part of the solution are more likely to succeed. Being customer centred and collaborative are hallmarks of adaptive businesses today. Take the example of intrapreneurship at Amazon. Frustrations around being better able to service customers (through faster tech deployment), led to a collaborative effort which resulted in the development of AWS. This turned out to be one of the biggest disruptive changes which happened almost serendipitously.

three C traps (of trolls) which kill collaboration

Adaptive challenges take time and cultural shift which requires collaboration. In the Australian Leadership Paradox, Aigner and Skelton talk about the three C traps (of trolls) which kill collaboration – Competition (for resources, authority or recognition), Control (the challenge of letting go of full control as to what is going to happen) and Commitment (inevitably fall back to the old approaches designed to maintain status quo).

The tighter an organisation holds on to what they have or know – the harder is to innovate, take risks and be open to difference and diversity:

’employees want to keep information and expertise to themselves often because of fear of becoming less valuable if their knowledge and expertise is shared by others – a knowledge is power attitude. Helping others within the organisation can often be a low priority and sometimes people are afraid of being embarrassed by sharing a creative or whacky idea to solve a colleague’s problem’.

It is critical work of leadership to lead across difference and uncertainty and identify these collaboration traps. With a key focus on the customer and willingness to learn; about complexity, from mistakes and with collaboration will help organisations cope and even flourish with uncertainty.

 

References:
Aigner, G. & Skelton, L. (2013), The Australian Leadership Paradox
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/334932