Innovation is a pesky human trait. If left unchecked or allowed to blossom, innovation can produce all sorts of unexpected business outcomes, not-planned-for products, and even completely upset the warm-and-fuzzy status quo of entire industries. Experts observe that innovation is known to create entire new markets producing blue oceans of bubbling business activity, which are known to negatively affect the real estate and beach resort package prices in the red ocean neighborhoods. If you’re one of many conservative human capitalists, who wish to avoid all this nonsense, noise, risk, and instability and instead prefer to have a low somewhat stable return on your human capital, read on! Here are three easy-to-follow steps to stamp out innovation in your team or even your entire organization:
1. Demotivate. Humans are sole carriers of the innovation bug. Granted, some animals, such as squirrels, have also been known to be rather creative, but they do not affect your bottom line and have no influence on the returns on your human capital. Therefore, savvy demotivators focus all their demotivation efforts on humans only. One of the best frameworks for effective demotivation campaigns is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It clearly outlines the crucial focus areas for any demotivation campaign, regardless of its scale. People, who have to worry about safety of their jobs or work in a hostile environment, do not innovate. Managers, who lead their teams following the well-proven “do this, because I said so” principle, generally find their teams well-protected against uncontrolled outbursts of innovation or any other such unwelcome irregularities of human behavior. Keep ’em on their tiptoes and have your stick always ready and you shall have the peace and quiet you seek! Highly-effective quick-fix innovation deterrent solutions include all-hands meetings (unfortunately, their heads rarely join such important events) to discuss imminent outsourcing plans of the suspected innovators’ jobs or/and relocation of the very same jobs to the company’s new Sahara Desert Center of Incredible Productivity (CoIP). Make sure to consistently underpay your workers, lest they think you care about them—the easily replaceable cogs that they are.
2. Divide and Conquer. Ability to see the whole picture and think holistically is one of the more potent sources of innovation. People, who get routinely exposed to challenging problems are more inclined and more capable to develop innovative solutions. Individuals with exposure to all aspects of a service delivery may learn enough about it to be tempted to improve it! Companies, who practice employee rotation often find a slew of innovations to deal with, which result from unwelcome fresh perspective that the rotating employees gain and/or bring wherever they maybe assigned. Avoid these practices! Slice your services into tiny pieces. You can do it under the banner of better leveraging your resources. For example, there are 100+ keys on a standard computer keyboard. It is therefore and incredible waste of the employees’ collective muscle force and time to have everyone in your company use the entire keyboard at every computer! To improve the situation, create specialized teams. A skillful Divide and Conquer (D&C) professional, needs but a glance at a computer keyboard to quickly realize the immense possibilities its layout offers! For example, create a Q2P Team (for greater leverage and effect, create only one such team and call it Global Q2P Team). This team will have full access to the letters “Q” through “P” and will press them, after proper request approval has been duly filed, for the whole company. As a matter of policy, nobody else in your organization should be authorized to use these keyboard keys outside the Global Q2P Team. At the earliest opportunity, outsource the Q2P services to the lowest-cost offshore provider, one with the longest turnaround times and no reliable way to contact, to complete the remarkable business transformation. For more creative ideas, read Pat Lencioni’s Silos, Politics and Turf Wars. When he wrote this book, Mr. Lencioni did not realize that, if read backwards (e.g. if you do the opposite of whatever Mr. Lencioni suggests), his book provides an invaluable resource for D&C professionals and artists at any organizational and skill level.
3. Bureaucratize. If you have been deliberate and resolute in executing steps 1 & 2, you should already have your innovation infestation well under control. The most notorious innovators, those who simply cannot “just do the work at hand” without constantly thinking up new ways to do it better (Who are they to know what is better? Only you do!), have already left your organization and you in peace. Alas, the human nature is such that even those, who have accepted the appearance of and now obediently rely on Q2P team to perform Q2P typing services, might still continue to come up with incremental innovations (e.g. suggest that Q2P and A2L teams work together to improve communication, coordination, and processing of the incoming workload). Fear not! As you well know, business is all about Strategy, People, Processes, and Technology. The strategy is simple: “Zero innovation!” The people are the source of the problem and therefore have to be treated separately. This post is about how to do that. Therefore, we have Processes and Technology left to consider. Complete and utter bureaucratization is the guiding principle for properly aligning both. Cumbersome workflows and lengthy procedures should securely separate the person wishing to accomplish something fast (e.g. so they can have some time freed up to think up ways to improve things) from their objectives. The more bureaucratic degrees of separation are there the better! In a well-bureaucratized environment, everyone will keep their heads down busy filling out forms, tracking their progress, and participating in numerous status update meetings, which, by the way, should never end on time.
If you relentlessly follow the guiding principles I outlined in this post, I promise that innovation will leave and stay out of your team or your entire organization forever!