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Idris Mootee

What can I say? Both of you guys are right. Without innovatoton there's simply no economic progress. There are a lot of myth about innovaiton and it is soemtimes seen as the answer to everything. Innovation effort needs to be supported by sound business thinking from business economics to behavior economics. It is all about managing risks and driving adoption. That's it. BTW Bob, I understand you're trying to make a point. I enjoyed your blog.

Wally Bock

I think we need to entangle some of our language here.

Starting a business and being an entrepreneur are not the same thing. Most small businesses are started by people who are intent on creating the 21st century equivalent of a subsistence business, one that will provide income for today and retirement income for tomorrow.

Creativity and innovation are also different. Creativity is coming up with ideas. It's a natural human activity despite the best efforts of the educational system to squelch it.

Innovation is turning an idea or bunch of ideas into something useful. That's the result of a mix of individual and group effort. The individual has to capture his or her idea and share it. The group has to hear the idea and work to turn it into something.

Businesses that succeed over the long haul need creativity and innovation. They also need execution and relationships.

Aaron Erickson

The thing is Bob, there has been a lot of misinformation about the new business failure rate.

The forces against allowing creativity and innovation in the workplace are huge and overwhelming. There are a few respites from these forces, Silicon Valley being among them... but most of the time, business does just a fine job of squashing innovation, Thank You Very Much.

Now granted, the people *selling* innovation are usually snake oil salesmen who have happened upon a business environment that has no idea how to do it. So I will certainly agree with the notion that you should think very carefully about people coming to you promising to quickly make your company become innovative and creative.

Making innovation and creativity work is a people strategy, a company culture. It starts with a deep understanding of what a risk/reward ratio is about. It is maintained by a culture that does not see failure as a bad thing - but as some famous person I can't remember said, failure is the aperture to success. It thrives in an environment of hope and respect. It dies in an environment of fear, loathing, and indifference.

Just my .02 I suppose :)

Bob Sutton

Aaron,

I have made the same decision that you have, and also there is lots of evidence, that without at least some creativity and innovation, organizations are doomed to die int he end. But I also thing that, just as every drug or surgical procedure has known risks and side-effects, that people who "sell" management services and solutions of various kinds owe it their customers to warn them of the drawbacks. Innovation, like too many other management approaches, is too often sold as the answers to all our problems. And there are a lot of reasons why buyers need to beware. The Google and Yahoo! boys story is told constantly, but you don't hear much about the thousands of failed firms and ideas. Jim march;s statement is empirically correct.

Aaron Erickson

I guess it's time to go back to stamping out widgets again.

Bleh.

Normally good material here, but this feels like being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian.

The investors in creativity know this. Google may waste a lot on that 20% where they let people do whatever they want... they know maybe 1 in 10 will work fabulously, 3 more in 10 will be ok and sustain, and 6 will utterly fail.

The alternative to innovation and creativity is, devaluation of what humans bring to the table - the ability to explore, invent, synthesize, and create. Without creativity and innovation, there is very little a knowledge worker in the western world brings to the table - we are back down to who can stamp out widgets - everything from toys to source code, in the least costly and most conformist way.

No thanks. I'll keep my innovation and creativity, regardless of the "costs".

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