Innovation, Leadership,

Here are some pointers on how to break the vicious cycle of desire for improvement and factors that work against it.

I am talking of the conundrum in which there is pressure for performance leading to change initiatives, which leads to disruption, which makes it difficult to change, which builds pressure for performance, which leads to more change initiatives —– and the story goes on!

Change in innovation


The book ‘End of Change’ by Peter Scott-Morgan and others, McGraw Hill,  provides a good remedy. It is all up to the leadership to do so.

Innovative companies should not fixate on change but instead concentrate on maximizing stability during the change period. To thrive within turbulence, organizations should maximize ‘stable innovation.’ This stability is reached by different routes in different circumstances.Change inhibiting innovation

The two different facets of circumstances are,  frequency of innovation – low frequency (every 2 to 3 years) to high (every few weeks), and the level of it –  low level (nothing fundamentally innovative about the change) to high (extreme of totally uncharted territory). With this we can have four sets of circumstances – low frequency low level, low frequency high level, high frequency low level and high frequency high level.

The low frequency low level is primarily one time incremental innovation, low frequency high level is spasmodic innovation, high frequency low level is repetitive innovation and high frequency high level is incessant innovation.

All four situations call for different types of stability.

Incremental innovation (low frequency, low level) calls for Pyramid type of stability. A pyramid is a difficult structure to move. The only way to move it is by nudging it along but there is a lot of resistance.

Spasmodic innovation (low frequency, high level) calls for Cube type of stability. The cube is stable but you can get it to move by pushing at the right places and using a pivot maybe.

Repetitive innovation (high frequency, low level) calls for Cylinder type of stability. A cylinder is easy to move but only as long as it is rolling on its long axis.

Incessant innovation (high frequency, high level) calls for Sphere type of stability. The sphere is the easiest to move in any direction and can also be steered as it is being rolled forward.

Each of the stability structures (Pyramid, Cube, Cylinder and Sphere) have their own set of strategies, processes, resources and organizational imperatives. One must pick the innovation/change situation one is in and accordingly pick the stability structure which will further lead to more guidance for that specific situation.

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