Can strong management inhibit innovation and change?

Today’s business world requires innovation and change and companies that aren’t good at these can quickly run into difficulty.  But often overlooked is the role of current operations in constraining thinking and limiting opportunities.  You have to think beyond current operations and ways of doing business to innovate and evolve along with your markets.
Here are three examples of this:

  • Beginning planning by looking at what you have restricts thinking about new and innovative products and markets.  This is why a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) can be counter-productive, because it forces you to begin with your current situation.
  • Making operations as efficient as possible for today’s products and services can make it very difficult to begin new ventures that won’t be as efficient and will require new competencies.  Kodak learned this in a big way.  Their moves to divest themselves of new and innovative units in order to “stick to their knitting” of film, and their infamous “not invented here” cultural norm both contributed to their inability to move beyond their business into digital, despite being on the forefront of digital cameras.
  • An insistence on managing people across an organization with the same policies and practices can lead to failure in introducing new business lines.  For example, retail banks require different skills and aggressiveness than commercial banks.  Trying to operate both elements without an understanding of the differences will create mediocre results.
    Innovation and managing change requires different thinking.

Don’t box yourself in with the present and take advantage of techniques to think more broadly about evolving needs and opportunities.