Fear of Digital Transformation and Wrong Beliefs: How to Defeat the Biggest Innovation Killers!


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Announcements come plentiful when the Company Talk about willingness to innovate, digital change and conversion measures. But most of it has no consequences. The main reasons for this? The top innovation inhibitors in companies are fear, power, wrong beliefs and bureaucracy, according to a study by the think tank 2bAhead.

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Anne M. Schüller's Profile anne-m-schueller_portrait-mit-hutAnne M. Schüller is a management thinker, keynote speaker, business coach and multiple award-winning bestselling author. She has repeatedly been named Top Voice by the business network LinkedIn.

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Fear is the greatest success killer

The fear of making decisions on an insecure basis rated 52 percent of study participants as the number one innovation preventers. 35 percent of the total of 202 interviewed chief innovators from mostly German Company They also admitted that they had already prevented innovations for fear. So, first of all, it's the fear, and especially the fear of mistakes, that has to disappear from the companies.

With fear in the neck we run faster, but only a very short piece. After that we are completely finished. The fact that man under pressure exerts spiritual miracles is a particularly dangerous story. The opposite is the case. Continuous pressure and persistent miscarriage sabotage the brain's ability to do its best because the messengers excrete in the anxiety block synapses.

But in fast times, fast synapses are sorely needed. And creativity, the key resource for innovation, is like a witty diva who needs the right circumstances. Cheerfulness, leisure and stress abstinence are part of it. Work has to be fun to be good. That is why so much emphasis is placed on a comfortable climate in flourishing new economy companies.

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The powerful do not instigate a palace revolution

For 37 percent of those surveyed, power issues are the number one obstacle to innovation. In addition, according to the study, almost every second manager fears a loss of power through innovation. Losing power and with it status and control is usually damn difficult. Preservation of vested rights is therefore a huge issue. Because of an inflated measurement and control bureaucracy, many managers ensure their right to exist in the first place. But bureaucracy makes a company slow and stupid.

Any change - and therefore any innovation - also means that something unknown is created that no one knows for sure whether it will be better or worse than the one before it. Anyone who wants to break new ground must also be able to break habits, leave their comfort zone and throw overboard valid beliefs.

But people like to repeat activities in which they were once victorious. This behavior is called “self-herding” in specialist circles. Similar to herd behavior, here we follow the “herd” of our own previous decisions. Management thinker Gary Hamel has a catchy statement ready for such yesterday: "The future easily makes fools out of the unteachable who cling to old certainties for too long."

Dispose of the old ballast of old times

One thing is for sure: on the journey to the future, it takes easy baggage, because the markets, like the hares, always hit new heels. But while the Old Economy continues to cumbersome planning and endlessly discussing budgets, the founder generation is just starting. Of course, it is better not to wear a suit and frame sewn, but t-shirt and sneakers. Speed ​​is increasingly important in exponential times.

For this must first be mended. All the weeds that hinder innovation must go: traditions that have never been questioned, sacred cows, which no one has ever wanted to slaughter, management methods that already have a rusty patina. Internal locks must be relaxed, degenerate management systems must be removed, and instruction-oriented control mechanisms must be taken care of quickly.

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However, if you want security, you will choose the triple step mode: Here a few more horsepower, there a little more design, there a new feature, the packaging bigger, the label more colorful and then the stuff cheap on the market to beat the competition to really show. Linear means: more of the same - but also more of the wrong - and increasing irrelevance. On the other hand, jumping through the wall of fire of uncertainty is disruptive.

What must go? Minus 50 as the target number

Inevitably, when something new is created, something old has to be set aside. But above all, the old see what they lose. The boys, however, are not in this dilemma. You have nothing to lose, no status to defend and no outdated stuff to be learned. And they have nothing to mourn from the "Before everything was better" time. You can only win in what the future holds.

In order for the traditional companies to reach the future, a rapid transformation into an agile state is a must. This means that everything that makes an organization slow must go away. And everything she does quickly has to come. First, the speed gap must be closed. 50 percent less bureaucracy, administration, hierarchy, reporting, key figure systems and so on are a reasonable target.

I therefore advocate not for complete smashing and anarchy, but for low-hierarchical systems and a sufficient structure to ensure essential quality and to eliminate false paths at an early stage. For whoever tries to clear hierarchies by force creates a vacuum, in which hierarchies are created again. In addition, employees at all levels have to be approached to new forms of work.

How to get “Quick Wins” and “Big Wins”

There are many tools to rebuild obsolete management structures and to create better conditions for innovation. Here I call two:

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  • a “kill a stupid rule” workshop that is suitable for larger groups of employees across departments. The aim is to optimize internal processes independently, especially with a view to innovations for improved customer orientation.
  • a “kill the company” workshop, which is primarily intended for management levels. With this format, which was originally developed by Lisa Borell, CEO of the consulting firm Futurethink, the own company is probed through the glasses of an aggressive competitor or start-up in order to better prepare for the future.

From my own experience, I know: the first method brings rapid operational success, the second can provide the necessary really big jumps.


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