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You get into a discussion about innovation and at some point the topic of resistance comes up. Innovation and resistance somehow seem to go together, I'm not exactly sure why. I'm not saying it's not true but I think organizations have resistance to a lot of things, not just innovation. From my experience in dealing with my own colleagues and in my own situation as well as my clients, I've seen resistance in the innovation space and it happens at different levels.
One of the first things that people resist is this notion that you can learn innovation, people fight that. Ultimately when they start to learn systematic methods of creativity they start to change, but then they'll throw this at me. They'll say, "You know, Drew, that might work at your "company but that will never work at our company. "It just is not going to work on our products." This happened to me with a very large global multinational company in a training program, where one of the guys raises his hand and he says, "Drew, I just don't see it working on our products." What we had to do is take one of their products right there on the spot.
We took a household appliance, and I remember vividly, we applied a systematic innovation method to it and right in front of the team, this group of about 40 marketers at this company, we were able to produce valuable ideas, new-to-the-world ideas. Sometimes that's what it takes. People have to have that experience to break down that resistance. Then the resistance factor can really kick in. A team invests in innovation, they come up with a lot of great ideas, but then they've got to get them through the pipeline.
That's where the resistance can really hit, simply because there's competition for resources. Other people want to get their ideas into the market too. The managers of a company are always making the tradeoffs between what are the best projects, what are the projects that are really going to push us forward to meet our financial goals. I get this complaint from people, from companies a lot. They'll say, "Drew, we can come up with ideas, "we just can't seem to get them in to the marketplace." I asked them, "What's the problem? "What do you think the issue is? Tell me about your ideas." They said, "The ideas aren't necessarily that "good and we're struggling with that." I say, "If the organizational antibodies are "slowing down the process of these ideas "it's because the ideas are mediocre." If you are very good at executing mediocre ideas, you end up with a lot of well-executed mediocre ideas in the marketplace.
You're better off generating high-quality ideas and that will reduce the resistance in getting it through to the pipeline. Then the final level of resistance I would say is that you get in to the market place, and there is change with innovation. People are going to look at your new-fangled ideas and they're going to scratch their head and go, "What do I do with this? How does this affect me." Innovation causes a certain disruption and an excitement in to the marketplace. It attracts attention and it attracts some resistance.
People have angst about and they fear change, and that's really at the root of some of this, what I'll call market resistance. Yes indeed, resistance happens with innovation at a lot of levels. The great innovators are willing to face it every step of the way.
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