How your employees are killing innovation

Maybe you hear it yourself, maybe even you said something like that?

Those are popular phrases you can hear on companies corridors:

  • We’ve tried that before it didn’t work.
  • There are experts for that!
  • It works fine the way it does.
  • Great idea, why didn’t the China or USA invent it?
  • We don’t have time for this!
  • Have you considered what expenses this will entail?
  • Isn’t that too detailed?
  • A good idea, but not necessarily for us!
  • That’s none of our business! We won’t share our know-how.

Especially the most valuable employees tend to use those fake arguments. Those phrases prevent the emergence of new ideas in your company.

What I see more often you (fashion CEO) proudly saying that your company is innovative and you have an open culture of work, while the reality tells something different.

Experienced employees often tend to use killer phrases. They have already experienced and seen a lot and they believe they know everything. Their own know-how is valuable but it turns out to be a stop sign for new ways and ideas. The obstacles created by experienced employees are passed to everyone else involved.

Those phrases seem to have no big meaning (at first glance) but can cause great damage. Your experienced employees will stay at old routines and ways of thinking while newbies will be afraid of sharing their ideas, opinions – even unconsciously!

Ok. We now see the problem but how to fix this?

Introduce the problem to your team.

You have 2 options.

Do it yourself: address the topic of killer phrases directly in the first innovation workshop/meeting you will have. Usually, no external persons take part in this kind of gathering. Define exactly what is meant by this and how these bogus arguments work. Provide practical examples that your audience can smile about. Repeat the most important killer phrases so that the participants of the innovation workshop remember them. A good exercise will be to play a role. Let your one employee play an external expert whom the other employee confronts with a false argument.

The second option, get the external person involved. Let the external person (maybe expert?) participate in the meeting. Even the biggest objections and noisy employees can be neutralized with good arguments and a pinch of humour. We always give the critic the opportunity to turn his bogus argument into substantial criticism. We are asking specific questions, for example: Why is there not enough time? What kind of expert would be needed to assess a particular issue? How do the other tasks hinder the willingness to try something new?

An open culture and business innovation only work if all employees of a company are taken on this journey. Otherwise, many good ideas will remain in the drawer. We don’t want that, right?


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1. Order Team Strategic Session – 2 days (It involves gathering representatives of selected company departments in one place, over one goal/topic. The goal of their creative work is to generate various business concepts/ideas/options, analyze them and propose actions)

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WARNING: I never negotiate rates, I don’t break down payments into instalments. No refunds. You either want it or you don’t (begging and convincing not included).

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