Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Executive complacency blocks innovation

I heard it in two different conversations today and I’ve been thinking the same thing for awhile. In essence, the idea is expressed in a Tweet by Christian de Neef, ( ) a knowledge management consultant in Belgium: ”Innovation is an ongoing battle against apathy, complacency and laziness.”

It may not be totally the fault of those responsible for innovation. More often, I suspect, it is the fault of the money people – the senior executives, CEOs and board members who are too lazy to do the hard work of learning the details of innovations proposed by others. So they’re never pursued. As an advocate of education transformation, I am struck by the parallel between so-called “lazy” high school dropouts and complacent executives.

In my mind, the big issue with learning is motivation. Students are often de-motivated by under-funded and one-size-fits-all school systems and the prospect of limited opportunities, with or without a diploma, because the system is rigged and dehumanizing.

Executives are de-motivated because they’re complacent with their comfortable positions and remuneration. They’ve already got theirs so there’s no need to stretch their minds into new ways of thinking and working. It’s better to just play it safe, do what everyone else does and concentrate on what they know best. Unfortunately today, in most boardrooms that is financial management. Why bother innovating when we can ensure comfortable and even outrageous returns – for us – from mergers, acquisitions, political lobbying, and economic terrorism of our workers?

In fairness, if it can be called that, workers and politicians are too lazy to learn new ways of doing things as well. Things may be bad and getting worse, but for the moment 90% of people have got a job so they’re complacent. “Let’s leave innovation to the dreamers; all I want are my toys – my smart phones, my cars, my ….”

And executives hearing them say “Give the customers what they want because that’s the way to more wealth for us.” Round and round the circle goes. What little innovation that is funded is only marginal and incremental and in areas that don’t rock the boat. Disruptive operational innovation is admired when someone pulls it off but few try.

The tragedy is that there are so many dreamers – voices in the wilderness – with detailed proposals for systemic innovation that can deliver incredible value for vast numbers of people. But executives fail to understand because it takes real work to learn how to change the world. There are easier ways to get ahead. Drop outs are getting their message.


Does Nike have a legal lock on “Just do it?”

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

I was sparked today reading “What Makes an Entrepreneur? Four Letters: JFDI” on Mark Suster’s blog, Both Sides of the Table.

It did two things for me. First it pushed me to stop screwing around with research and strategy about social media. I was fretting about the best platform for a blog but finally realized that, judging from my past performance, I would probably continue that for a long time and then there would be something else that “needed” to be done first and, ultimately, the blog would never be started. So this blog is going to be an exercise in heuristic learning – I will just do it and learn on the fly.

The second thing Suster’s blog triggered was this question to the world: Does Nike have a legal lock on “Just do it?” It seems to me this mantra or injunction is just too big and important not to be shared by everyone. As things stand now, though, Nike has hijacked the phrase and no one else can use it without sounding like a commercial for Nike. I would love to see a campaign with Adidas, Roots, Reebok, and … what the hell, Ford, Toyota, McDonalds, GE, Mitel, Bell, and every other company nudging their worlds to just do it. It could be a hell of a spiritually uplifting campaign applied to charities, social justice agendas and business innovation.

Maybe we should really think about that. Or perhaps get Nike to start the ball rolling.

Whaddya mean, I should JFDI? I’m busy.