HBR posted a good article recently about Why Managers Don’t Really Want to Innovate. The article pointed out that most companies are not willing to devote time to innovation because innovative time steals from production time.
Since innovation has been a topic of interest to associations and other member-based organizations, we’re wondering if you’ve had the same experience?
Innovation time may take away from production (or event planning) time in the short run but in the long term, assessing and reassessing the way you conduct business and your offerings is beneficial to your organization. It keeps it vital and attractive to potential members. The benefit to staff and process remaining the same over time is consistency but it’s also a downfall as there is a tendency to continue on auto-pilot. The staff and board have spent years formulating best practices and now they work, automated like a factory line. It’s efficient but not sexy. If it’s been years since the topic of best practices has been visited it may not even be the most efficient way of doing business. Has software been introduced that could simplify your daily tasks? Are there new types of events you could be offering or can you introduce new features into events (like Twitter that will improve your communication and connection to and with members?
Innovation doesn’t have to be free time given to employees to pursue their own joy. It can be as easy as conversation. When I’m brainstorming for topics or content on this blog, I call upon my co-workers. I talk to gamers. I talk to HR. I talk to support. I like to hear their thoughts on what they think we do and how we help people. I ask about their hobbies or what they did over the weekend. I never know where a blog post idea will come from. The same can be said of innovation. Talking to members about how they use your association, chamber or organization can give you a very different perspective from that of your board. We get mired in our own positions but may have incredibly original ideas for a problem we’re seeing for the first time.
Innovation, when done optimally, will never end and by that measure, it can be frustrating to those overseeing the process. But evolution of our organizations is what will continue to make them thrive. Sadly, there is no equation for that, no line process. You must talk about new things/possibilities and understand that some will be a good fit and others not. Sometimes you won’t be able to tell the difference between the two until implementation.
Talk to everyone about innovation but avoid using the term. It’s limiting, like when someone asks your favorite color. It’s hard to communicate that in a way that the listener can feel. “I like blue” is very different from pointing at the ocean, toes in the sand and saying “the blue of the Atlantic Ocean is my favorite color.” There’s so much more to that experience.
Who are you talking to about innovation and ideas today?