What does Innovation mean today?

Many companies place a great emphasis on innovation. Leaders are especially expected to be innovators, both in technical knowledge (improving processes, and products…) and in social “soft” skills (developing organization and relationships among colleagues…). But this is not so easily realized in practice because only selective innovations, those that suit the company, are accepted and approved.

The resistance of living organisms to the penetration of new and foreign bodies is a completely natural occurrence. Similarly, companies react to new ideas and their implementations. They fight against them with so-called “immune systems,” trying to destroy the “foreign bodies.” Of course, innovations are necessary for growth and development, and this is regularly encouraged formally – but essentially… the reality is much different. Every effect we produce creates a new enemy for us. A person must be mediocre if they want to be easily and quickly accepted; ideas must also be mediocre to be welcomed with approval by the majority. Therefore, in the corporate world, people with innovative and advanced ideas face a struggle to stay in that world (if they even want to).

There are people who naturally strive for improvement – innovators (as a personality type) think outside the box; they are hardworking, intuitive, and interested only in creating new value. They think like immigrants – they have come to a new land and must work and create something. They are not primarily interested in money; they are fulfilled by creative work. A company should understand, nurture, and reward such people. They are like children, they love to receive well-deserved recognition. However, they need protection because their behavior, motives, actions, and successes can irritate or “threaten” other employees. In an organization, innovations represent a “disruptive” moment, which undermines productivity in production, complicates procurement due to small quantities of specific raw material orders, and makes it difficult for sales to position products on the shelf, etc. The marketing team (which is oriented towards long-term success due to satisfying newly discovered customer needs and desires) is in such cases under pressure from top management to implement innovations, while all other sectors are extremely “cautious.” Each team has its own KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and defends them unless there is a consensus and a leader who will set general, company-wide key performance indicators. Each team strives to achieve its goals, so such a situation inevitably causes frustration and conflicts. Therefore, innovators with their new ideas bring general confusion to the company. It is clear to you whether they are welcome… They are doomed unless they have protectors because they do not possess the qualities necessary for corporate battles. They do not form cliques, do not gossip, do not scheme. Therefore, as long as someone in a position values their work and benefits from it (in terms of results that are presented at headquarters), they will survive in the company. What happens to them if they are not so lucky? Well… it depends on many factors. They may fight for their ideas to be understood and accepted, and thus realize, no matter how much they disrupt the usual way of working (but they do not have the “qualifications” for such a fight); they may simply turn and leave an environment where they feel unwelcome (which is the most common course of events); they may accept the general mood and fit into the mold (very rarely); or, if they are entrepreneurial at heart, they may separate and try independently to prove that their ideas are good and valuable – and they often succeed because they truly are special.

My recommendation is that everyone supports small producers or service providers because they work just to live off honestly earned money. Whether it is a grandma from the countryside selling vegetables she watered herself at the market or a physiotherapist who opened their practice to ease people’s pain – these small people are great when it comes to helping you. You can even owe them a few dinars, or they might give you something for free because they know that money is not the only value in life – unlike corporations that want to finance their populist image with triple-digit profit margins. And that’s a trend – the rich get richer rapidly. So, the next time you want to spend money on a product or service, think carefully about who you will support. “Being your own boss” forces one to be an innovator and survive in the market by adapting to customers and offering an optimal price-quality ratio. Corporations use their dominant position and distribution contracts with large retailers to primarily increase profit, while quality is secondary (although everyone claims to have a top-quality product – how to determine who is right?).

If your ideas are not accepted, ask yourself if the problem is with you or the organization you are currently in, and then move on and find fertile ground for the potential you possess.