5 Ways to “Keep the innovation alive” (as a Company becomes big)

(As quoted on Economic Times – 16th October 2015)

Our Chairman believes that the management must always be felt, not seen! 

As a company becomes large, it tends to get bureaucratic and local power structures emerge that stifle innovation. Bureaucracy is aimed at curbing wastage, which becomes essential as a company scales. So how does one discourage wastage while fostering innovation in large set-ups?

  1. Be an Adult, Not a Parent

As a leader, one is usually compelled to direct others and give them the best way to do things. Following a parental approach stifles thinking, and workers are compelled to bring all their problems to supervisors. Instead, focus on treating workers as adults, listen to their solutions and provide them only your viewpoint. The final decision on how to tackle the problem should rest squarely on their shoulders.

  1. Create a Culture of excellence

Innovation can occur only when each vertical, department and individual is clear about the standards of the organization. The Company should expect only the best, standards and goals must be quantifiable and communicated clearly to individuals. Once people know that mediocrity is unacceptable in the organization, they shall find new ways and means of doing things more effectively.

  1. Tolerate failure

There is a fine line between innovating and being wasteful. One needs to foster tolerance for failure; lack of doing so shall make people afraid to experiment. Companies need to discourage wastage but be tolerant if a new idea / experiment fails.

  1. Don’t make any rules

Companies need inculcate values in their employees, not give them a set of rules to adhere to. Managers need to develop in their workers a particular sensibility and value judgment capability so that they can make decisions on their own. At the same time adhering to the overall value system of the organization.

  1. When you see it, you know it!

This phrase was famously used in 1964 by United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart to describe his threshold test for obscenity. Similarly, innovation cannot be governed by a set of standards / rules / or even behavior. It is an environment created by the management leaders in the way they think and behave. And when employees shall see it, they will know it!

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