A survey conducted by Accenture of 519 organisations from 12 industry sectors, between 2009–2012, found risk-aversion had increased, despite a high commitment to, and increased investment in, innovation. This means that breakthrough thinking doesn’t get a look-in and it affects a business’s ability to adapt and change.
In research completed in 2012, we found out more about why groups continue to explore creative ideas while other groups reduce risk-taking and revert to habit. Studying three different organisations, there were some common themes:
- Building enough trust was the first hurdle. In my experience with organisations trying to build capacity for innovation, people often under-estimate the importance of trust-building. They shouldn’t – it is an essential step. Organisations should allow enough conversation time, both formal and informal, between team members so that people come to understand each other’s intentions and wishes, and build up enough trust between themselves, focused on the purpose of the work they are doing. In one case, where sufficient trust was most clearly developed, it took around 3 months.
- However, trust is not enough for idea generation and development. Diversity of perspectives is also needed, and teams should ensure they give enough time for debates to incorporate the different opinions of team members, as they discuss various means of doing their work.
- Trust and diversity helped idea generation and development in this research. They also fuelled the start of implementation, but were not enough to sustain implementation efforts through the inevitable obstacles. Innovation will alter power dynamics in organisations, bringing different views about whether and how to progress efforts. The role of senior leadership was crucial in supporting ongoing innovation, so that agreement was reached and ideas were given the go-ahead for implementation.
Read more about what we found in this article.
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