Lean don’t kill innovation … does!

by Christina Villefrance Moeller, TalesOfLeading

Thank you. You came up with quite a lot of good suggestions to what could stand on the dotted line: culture, old men, mediocre people, lack of interest, people, lack of thinking, bad management, frozen brain. Are we really that inhuman when we work together at the workplace?

Combining Lean and Innovation

In Lean we focus on creating stable processes delivering a stable output. Innovation is creating something new, the customers are willing to pay for. You could claim that both implied experimentation. Then why is it so difficult to combine Lean and innovation? Can’t we just create a system that leaves room for both? I have seen organization being Lean and very innovative in the way they manufacture and create value for their customers. I have also seen organizations who are very structured in their product development and still deliver innovative products to their customers. Have these people found the holy grail? Do they have a solution or concept all other organizations can adapt?

What about systems

One on LinkedIN suggested systems. I find that interesting because systems are what we work within. You can perceive the organization as an open adaptable system forming the conditions for working people (on all levels). It’s a structure of distributed authority and work. It’s the incentive structure promoting and rewarding the wanted behavior and results.  It’s the processes tying people and processes together. The organization transform the strategies into performance and if the system is capable strategic objectives are turned into achievements. We are occupants of the system, contribute with our skills, work, relate to other people in the system and we change the system. Yes, we, the people, build this system. Doesn’t it make it a people problem?

Know the feeling of being strangled

I know the feeling of not being able to use my creativity. It’s like being strangled; almost a near death experience. I can’t breathe and I can’t think. The only solution for me was to remove myself from the situation, no matter how difficult that was. However, I don’t blame anyone. I don’t think that any colleague or boss goes to work everyday to make life miserable for others. I’m sure them most of them do their best at doing what they think is right. Of course there are exceptions, but it’s never the first place for me to look. Or is it?

Fear of making a mistake

My first thought about what word should be on the dotted line was fear. Fear of failing an attempt of improving a product, service or process. Fear of the consequences when what you thought would work doesn’t work. A feeling coming from within yourself as a reaction to uncertainty. Or if you are sure a failed mistake will be punished, you wouldn’t even think of trying. Fear would then hold you back from taking the risks of experimentation.

What do you think kill innovation in your organization? I’m still open for suggestions.

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