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  • Writer's pictureTerry Dockery


Will Rogers said it best: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

My years consulting with high-performing and not-so-high-performing organizations have led me to this same conclusion in spades. Continued success requires continuous innovation.

The not-so-high-performing organizations seem to be in a perpetual “firefighting” mode of overwhelmed crisis management; the high-performing organizations make sure that they are working “on” as well as “in” the organization.

Figure 1 below is from The Innovation Formula, by Michael Robert and Alan Weiss. Note the difference between problem solving and innovation, and also note the two different impacts on organizational performance. Also, pay special attention to the fact that innovation requires initiative by the leader of an organization. Innovation doesn’t occur unless it is nurtured and rewarded by the person who has the power to make these things happen.

Of course this all makes intuitive sense, but the phenomenon illustrated in Figure 2 is less readily apparent. This figure is from Innovation: The Attacker’s Advantage, by Richard Foster. In organizations any period of innovation or rapid growth will ultimately plateau and decline if left unattended. A good current example is today’s Sony Corporation, which after many years of being an innovation leader is experiencing a period of stagnant sales and political infighting that has decreased its performance.

Continued success requires continuous innovation, and the best time to leap to the next level of success is when you have positive momentum from a current success. It is much more difficult to make this transition when your current level of success has begun to erode and you have lost positive momentum.

Figures 1 & 2:


Technique #1: Ensure that you are continuously innovating by working “on” as well as “in” your organization—avoid the “endless firefighting” syndrome.

Technique #2: Hire people who have the capability to innovate.

Technique #3: Implement ongoing continuous innovation processes in your organization (e.g., granting autonomy, rewarding innovation, periodic strategic planning meetings).

Copyright Terry "Doc" Dockery, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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