INNOVATION – Whose Job Is It?

When you start in a new job you quickly learn the boundaries. You learn them from fellow employees and your boss.

The boundaries are set based on the beliefs of the functional department you work in. In most cases the foundation for these boundaries were first established when you were studying at college – finance – engineering – management departments.

In most cases the “Aim” of the boundaries is to reduce chaos and mistakes. “Smart Management” means no drama. This can create challenges when it comes to innovations that are Meaningfully Unique.

I do believe that 99% of managers understand that the company needs to innovate. However, also believe they feel it’s not their job – it’s not within their boundaries. It is the job of specialists.

The consequence of this view is that when the innovation team comes to a department with a NEW IDEA that requires the department to change, adapt or adjust – the innovation is rejected as it conflicts with the boundaries that the department has grown to accept.

The net result is innovation stagnation – rework, redo and the slow death of innovations from bold innovations into incremental nothingness.

To vaporize this stagnation the leadership must redefine the boundaries of every division, department, work group and employee to include innovation.

What ever you want to call it – Innovation – working smarter – continuous improvement – or never ending change – must become core to everyone, everywhere, every day.

That is the message of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, that is the dirty little secret of the Toyota Production System – that is the mission of the Innovation Engineering Movement.


By Doug Hall

Doug Hall
Write a Comment