Innovation Insights is a daily post on LinkedIn to help leaders strengthen those all-important innovation muscles over a period of 30 days. Below is a summary from week 5.

Innovation or Inertia? Do you have a culture of innovation or a culture of inertia? Cultures of innovation is what everyone is aspiring to these days, but how do we know one when we see one? One way is to look at the opposite of a culture of innovation—a culture of inertia. A culture of inertia is characterized by:

  • Slow, bureaucratic decisions
  • Reliance on successful innovations of the past
  • People operate without the positive pressure to change or improve
  • Most innovation stories coming from the same people/departments
  • Focus on optimization
  • Lack of new or diverse talent/thinking
  • Competition inappropriately focused internally
  • Lack of synergy between business units or key functions
  • A generally feeling that one is just a cog in the machine and not much attention paid to new opportunities

If 5 or more of these are depressingly familiar, then you may want to rethink your current approaches.

OK they are cute and all, but… Pandas live exclusively on a diet of bamboo. This limits their range (bamboo does not grow everywhere).  Their reliance on bamboo also keeps them from hibernating like some of their other bear cousins because the nutritional content of bamboo is pretty low. This specialization limits options for a panda.

Is your organization like a panda, trying to eke out an existence on a meager diet on a small range? If so, it is time for a sharp adjustment, which will likely require more creativity than simply trying to find more bamboo, faster.

The Point is This.  Is active listening really the whole story? Would we really need so much active listening if people were better at saying what really needed to be said? Yes we need to listen, but some people make this very hard with long-winded, fuzzy, or overly diplomatic proclamations. Do everyone a favor. Think through what really needs to be said and say it.

What has this got to do with innovation? Innovation requires clear conveyance of ideas and feedback between individuals and teams to achieve any success at all. There, I said it.

Ready for the Ring. Fight the way you train, train the way you fight. Good advice.  It is a warning that half-hearted training efforts will put us in jeopardy when the fight is really on.

Today, the fight really IS on and people are feeling  the strain.

Not following that advice is one reason so many dollars are wasted on leadership training. Often the training is too conceptual and not related to how people really do business. In this era of reduced or eliminated budgets for training, my suggestion is to take all the dollars that were not spent on travel and trade shows and use it to teach your people how to tap into their creativity to position the business for future success. If you can think of a better investment, I’d like to hear it.