Innovation is crushed.
Creativity is stultified.
Fresh thought is constrained to a minimum.
Barriers to new ideas are erected.
These results are often the product of leadership behaviour even though they are completely at odds with what leaders openly espouse to employees as the culture and values they seek to establish.
These six actions will effectively kill any desire for individuals to freely express themselves; they will suck every morsel of originality from their bones .
1. Say “That’s not the way we do things around here” whenever someone presents a new idea. This is the hold-on-to-the-past move that will shut out people from even thinking about new ways of doing things. It’s ok for a leader to honour the past, but they must say “goodbye” at some point to enable the organization to continually renew itself and survive.
2. Measure employees on how well they follow internal policies . If you manage performance and compensation on how well people “Color inside the lines” and conform to existing rules they will be be solely internally focused and unlikely to advance changes to keep pace with the dynamics of the external environment.
3. “De-reward” people for making mistakes in the pursuit of excellence, quality and perfection. Emphasize the importance of “getting it right the first time” rather than trial and error. Communicate examples of employees making mistakes to show what is not ok.
4. Insist on arduous analysis of every change being contemplated regardless of complexity. Impose a strict business case process that emphasizes analysis methodology rather than enabling fast and easy decision making.
5. Recognize people for the ways they relentlessly practice the internal rules of the organization. A “Best Rule Follower” award program always gets the message across that doing what the rules say is more important than using individual judgement and expression.
6. Never allow people to step beyond their immediate role boundaries . Focus everyone’s attention on their job description. Keep their blinders on; never allow them to think beyond to discover the NEW art of the possible.
Do you witness any of these actions in your organization?
If you do, you are witnessing the annihilation of original thought.