Saturday, December 25, 2021



Peter Drucker once famously remarked "Culture eats Strategy for breakfast." Culture is invisible but has much greater impact on organization's ability to innovate. Scratching the surface of world's most famous product failures would reveal the deficiencies in their culture as one of the leading causes.

This post is not really about reinforcing the role cultures play. Most of us know this and tonnes have been written about it. But the point i am trying to magnify really is that the root causes of not-so-successful #innovation endeavors can also be tracked back to the capabilities and mindset of the innovators.
An Harvard Business Review (link in the comments) titled "Stop Sabotaging Your Ability to Innovate" mentions an alternate reasoning about Kodak's inability to launch the world-first digital camera despite being the first to invent the technology.
As the narrative goes, In 1974 a young Kodak engineer named Steven Sasson was assigned a seemingly low-stakes task: to see if there was any practical use for a recent invention capable of turning light into data. He built a device that could capture images and digitally display them on a screen and eagerly presented it to his bosses. But he made a tactical blunder: He billed the new technology as “filmless photography.” That positioning clashed with the very raison d’être of his audience—executives whose careers depended on the sale and processing of film—all but guaranteeing a tepid response.
The article calls Sasson's pitch as "deeply flawed" as he seemed to have gotten carried away by the enthusiasm for his invention. Sasson himself admitted- “It never occurred to me that I was at odds with the fundamental mission of the company for the last 100 years.”
It is fair to say that Sasson's own traits came in his own way to succeed as an inventor. (note that the definition of success being referred here is not only creating the technology but also ensuring that it gets adopted).
In this context, I found what Ravi Venkatesan said in one of his podcasts-
"The biggest obstacle to your success is you. Sooner or later, we each become the barriers to our success. We have to learn to get out of our own way.It takes a high degree of self-awareness.”

Citing the metaphor of a giant balloon, Ravi further says  “Think of a giant hot-air balloon which has a huge lift, that's your potential. You could be anything but this balloon is held down by thick ropes or chains. These chains are your weaknesses, your fears. Don't create stories in your mind that are self-limiting."

The HBR article also talks about more such pitfalls for the innovators to avoid, such as: 
- The fear of getting started.
- Dealing with the frustration of Setbacks.
- Avoiding excess of creativity.
- An acceleration into hyperdrive.
(Summary in my sketchnote)

What else would you add to pitfalls to avoid for innovators ?

 LinkedIn Post:

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