Post Blog Silos

Do “skunkworks” create corporate silos?

I just read an interesting article by John Winsor, a contributor to Forbes.com.  The title of the article is

Don’t Put The Word ‘Innovation’ On Business Cards.

Here’s the link to the article.

SUMMARY:

The idea of the article - as I understand it - is that innovation 
centers, special innovation units, or skunk works creates a silo in a
company's culture. It's unfavorable because it breeds demotivation, 
and could create serious brain-drain if the company hits hard times
and the unit is disbanded or scaled back or if someone leaves the 
company. Instead, embed innovation throughout the entire company; 
don't isolate it.

MY COMMENTS ON MR. WINSORS’ ARTICLE:

While isolation and silo-type of culture could develop as a result of having an innovation special unit, it’s not a direct correlation. If it is happening, more likely it is a red flag that the innovation program is not working correctly.

Let me create an analogy between an innovation special unit and the Navy Seals. Both are agile groups that focus in on missions that are too tough for others to complete. Maybe others have tried and failed or no wants to try. These SEALS carry out their assigned missions and in the process, develop special operational strategy and tactics. Over time, these proven strategies and tactics can be systematized and processes can be developed for use throughout the organization. The SEALS take on the toughest problems and they encounter obstacles that develop and test their stamina, leadership and ability to work as a team.
Continue reading

In large & fragmented orgs how can you embed an innovation culture?

Recently the question went out: In large organisations (i.e., with more than 10,000 employees working in a wide range of departments and functions) how can you truly embed an innovation culture?

The best answer I read was by Richard Campbell (Business Innovation Consultant at Jekkub Design Management, London, United Kingdom). (My responses to his ideas are in brown.) He said, “There are as many authorities on innovation as there are ways to foster such cultures. Which of these that will work for your company depends on the existing culture…” This is absolutely true. Because innovation must be useful to the company, it must be ‘customized’ (for lack of a better word) to that culture. To miss out on this important concept means the solution will probably not stick.  Then he said, “who is the innovation champion, how engaged are your staff currently (have they seen lots of pointless change recently)…” This I partially agree with. People are willing to engage if they feel their opinions are heard and if the new idea fits with their understanding of the situation. The reason pointless change is pointless is because it fights the existing culture.  (All of what Richard said is powerful, but I’m just going to focus on this starting idea.) When you understand your company’s culture, you will understand why the company is stagnating in certain areas, which will be the areas that need innovation and will give the best ROI.
Continue reading