Innovation Means Change And That’s Not Popular

My last post about Procter & Gamble and their Design Thinking Initiative was largely about change. If the people involved in the Initiative were resistant to change it would never happen. And that’s what sometimes, maybe frequently, happens in libraries. Resistance to change is a surefire innovation killer. Likewise, organizations can thwart innovation and change with questionable tactics. An article from the July 2008 issue of University Business titled “Stifling Initiative” provides 10 simple rules for crushing innovation and maintain a culture of inertia. Here are those 10 rules in summary format:

1. Request a formal written proposal – make the innovator meet as many administrative requirements as possible

2. Send the proposal to a committee – this ought to make it take as long as possible to get a show of support for an idea

3. Schedule meetings to discuss the concept – it’s important to make sure all the key players are involved in the decision

4. Lose the proposal – another stalling tactic to avoid making a decision on the proposal

5. No money for that project – “This is a great idea…but…there’s no money for it”

6. Have you talked to…about this – put the innovator on the bureaucracy merry-go-round

7. We don’t, haven’t, won’t, can’t… – just be completely inflexible

8. Sounds exciting but give more detail – a good tactic for wearing down the innovator

9. Yes, but – there’s always a catch and it’s usually not a good one

10. Go Nancy Reagan and just say no – the ultimate power play to stop innovation

There are abundant ways to destroy the spirit of innovation in an individual or an organization. This article provides a reminder that it’s not that difficult to find ways to make it happen.

Author: StevenB

Steven Bell is currently Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services at Temple University, and was previously Director of the Library at Philadelphia University. Steven is the author of two regular columns published by Library Journal, From the Bell Tower and Leading From the Library. With John Shank he is co-founder of the Blended Librarians Online Learning Community. Bell and Shank are also authors of the book Academic Librarianship by Design. Bell's latest book is Crucible Moments: Inspiring Library Leadership. More information is found at his website.

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