Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 1 – starting a new series

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on August 29, 2014

I have been writing about creative innovation in this blog for about as long as I have written about anything here. And I keep coming back to this topic area because innovation and the cultivation of innovative potential have been crucial to my career path and to the businesses that I have tended to work with. In that regard I cite the still only partial categorical listing of ways that I have approached and addressed innovation as a general area of discussion in this blog, that I offered at the top of my first installment to another still-ongoing series: Innovation, Disruptive Innovation and Market Volatility (see Macroeconomics and Business, postings 173 and loosely following.) I note here in passing that I have delayed posting its next, fourth installment until after posting other relevant material to other innovation-related series, but will add its next entry to that series in my next blog posting after this one.

My focus here is on the individual innovator who comes up with an initial break-away idea or approach that can lead to a realized new innovative service, product or business practice. And going beyond that I focus on how creative, innovative talent can be found and cultivated in individuals throughout the organization, and for most businesses. And I begin this, thinking about “the one who got away.”

• How many people who move out of employment with an already established business, to strike out on their own and build their own businesses do so because they had reached such a level of frustration with former employers, that they saw the cost of staying with them as outweighing any possible direct costs of building their own startup, combined with the risk costs for attempting to do so?
• I can only say here that the percentage of new business founders who are at least significantly driven by this source of motivation to break away is large. And if you ask business founders what the pressure points were that led them to this decision, you will rarely if ever hear any of them complain that they went off on their own as new entrepreneurs because they were forced to change out of narrowly constrained standard approved and required routines by some former employer. Their greatest motivators for breaking away and moving off on their own usually involve being stultified and thwarted from being creative and innovative, or from being perhaps grudgingly allowed to innovate but only under circumstances where they cannot receive credit for any positive results of their effort, or from some combination of both.
• When a business loses its most actively creative people because they find themselves so hemmed in and blocked from being innovative that they cannot be happy there, they lose their future: their life’s blood for any next generation product or service line competitive edge. And they might very well find they have spawned new competitors for themselves in the process.
• Similar patterns often emerge when you meet with and interview people who have voluntarily walked away from one established business to find new job and career opportunities with another established business. True, there are a variety of unrelated reasons why this can happen, including changing jobs because a spouse has to and with a required relocation for that, or to live closer to an aging parent. Or an employee might be blocked from advancing in their career because no matter how much they are appreciated by their current employer, there are no anticipatable new positions to advance into there. Yes, some people do change jobs simply because a competing business can offer so significant an increase in compensation package received that it becomes an offer that cannot be refused. But certainly one of the largest and most compelling reasons to move on comes from feeling unappreciated and from being blocked from creatively doing your best on the job – from being pigeon-holed and taken for granted.

I have written about this at least peripherally with regard to employee retention (see HR and Personnel and its Page 2 continuation, and particularly for series such as: Employee Training and Development, and the Creation and Retention of Value, as found in the first of these two directory pages beginning with its posting 107.) This is the first posting to a new series in which my focus will be on:

• Cultivating innovative excellence and the potential for developing new sources of competitive strength
• By understanding, focusing on and cultivating the drive to create that can be found at least as a significant potential in virtually all of your good, effective employees and at all levels of your table of organization.
• Identifying and supporting your most creative innovators and no matter where they work in your business systems.
• And I will also write about working with members of your overall team to help them refine their ideas and turn them into realizable sources of here and now value for the business, and for themselves too.

I am going to begin this discussion by focusing in on what employees can creatively contribute to the innovative process, and on how essentially anyone in a business can become a partner in the overall innovative process and a contributor to an overall innovative effort – not just the people who start an innovative process with initial organizing ideas and concepts. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and also at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

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