"How do we stimulate innovation throughout the businesss?"
A growing number of businesses are realizing
that without constant innovation the ability to survive and
thrive in a competitive global economy is not likely. "In
the past innovation was relegated to the Research and Development
division off on some campus like setting away from business
operations. It is now clear that innovation needs to come
from everyone. Innovation is needed not only in products and
services but also in every way that the company operates."
Succesful innovation requires a supportive
culture, smart risk taking, knowing how to deal with ambiguity
in continously restructuring organizations, personal leadership
initiative in navigating ideas through the system. It is unfortunate
that despite initiatives to encourage creativity and risk
taking at every level; most innovative ideas never see the
light of day and are killed prematurely.
Our research at Political Savvy provides strong
evidence that a major reason for the lack of continuous innovation
is the inattention to the role that organizational politics
plays in the innovation process in almost every business.
Innovations represesent new ideas that if successful can create
a new order of things.
As Machieavelli noted, "...It should
be considered that there is nothing more difficult to handle,
more doubtful of success, or more dangerous to carry through
than to initiate a new order of things. For the innovator
makes enemies of all those who prosper by the old order while
only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would
prosper under the new. Their support is lukewarm partly from
fear of their adversaries, who have existing laws on their
side, and partly because men are generally incredulous, never
really trusting new things unless they have tested them by
experience. In consequence, whenever those who oppose the
change can do so, they attack vigorously..."
Few works on innovation even mention internal
politics and most works on politics seldom get past the micro
interpersonal side and address the process of innovation within
Political Savvy is often the missing ingredient essential to making constant innovation an organizational reality.
The Gateway Experience allows executives and people at all levels to discover for themselves the intimate relationship between continuous innovation and political savvy.
do I get my team to stop bickering among themselves and start
actually start woking together as a team? Our corporate survival
depends upon it?" --CEO
At senior levels of management at least two
extra dynamics come into play. First, while unable to say
so, several members want the CEO's job. This creates an underlying
tension that cannot be expressed where their may be greater
incentives to undermine each other than to work together.
Some people would rather be CEO of a less effective organization
than a Senior Vice President of a higly effective organization.
A second and separate dynamic is sometimes
called "The Land of the Bosses" syndrome. Before
being promoted to Corporate Headquarters to head a major function
or division, these executives have often been 'the boss' at
units outside of corporate for years without another 'boss'
in daily sight. Once promoted to Corporate Headquarters the
person who has gotten used to being treated as the boss when
they arrive at the office each day is suddenly crammed into
an area where everone around them has also been 'the boss'
for much of their career.
Entering the "Land of the Bosses"
is a new experience for them, one they are often not prepared
for. A common scenario is that they first act like the boss
they have been for some time, but then their fellow bosses
won't let them. So they can't go sideways. They certainly
can't boss the CEO, though some foolishly try. So they can't
Then they revert back to their more normal
habits of 'bossing' those below them in the field. For some
reason, many of them seem to forget that when they were bosses
in the field they spent a good deal of their time protecting
their unit from all the junk that came down from corporate.
So they find they can't quite boss downwards either. All this
can become very frustrating, but of course their egos could
never allow them to admit it. They can become stuck and quite
frustrated. Unless something like political savvy behavior
develops; this frustration can act out in ways dysfunctional
to everyone around them especially the corporation. Afterall
this group at the top often represents the most seasoned of
the companies best and brightest.
"How do we stop the 'turf wars' and get people to collaborate
across the division or department silos?"
Businesses are designed to be collaborative
within an organization, in order to compete without. Yet,
far too often internal competition is the norm.
The normal process starts off simply and rationally.
The business's overall goal is subjected to the rational division
of labor and broken down into smaller goals such as marketing
goals, financial goals, manufacturing goals, etc. .
These goals are then rationally backed by
rewards of which their are not enough to fully go around.
A scarce resource and scare reward environment is generally
the result. This leads to irrational competition and silos
between the very functions or units that are supposed to be
collaborating with each other.
As a consequence, much of the organizations
energy goes into internal friction, blame, and self protectiveness
rather than towards serving the customer and shareholder.
The Political Savvy Advantage shows how to
turn 'silo' defenders into silo linkers thus creating a Win-Win
"Tara is top management material, but the others will
eat her alive if she doesn't get coaching to deal with the
internal politics."-- Retiring CEO
It is still surprising to many that one can
attain very high levels in the organization and still be relatively
'clueless' about the politics going on all around them.
Sometimes such people have excellent technical
and leadership track records that political naivate was not
a deterrent in reaching their current level. However, more
and more studies are identifying lack of political savvy as
a key derailment factor for people who otherwise are technically
and business savvy.
The higher one goes in the corporation the
more likely understanding the inner political workings will
be critical to their longer term success. That is why in these
cases receiveing mentoring or coaching in political savvy
can make or break individuals as they rise to the highest
"How do we build a strong ethical base for our culture?"--
As competition and change builds at a faster pace,
the temptation to cut corners will only increase.
Recent headlines indicate on the surface what
is likely going on undetected in other corporations.
Yet it is the ethical nature of a business and the trust it builds with key stakeholders that will play a major role in its long term success.
One of the breakthrough findings of the studies
was the emergence of the phrase:
"Ethics is Power"
For most people operating ethically is a 'shouldism',
a type of obligation. What clearly should emerge from our
results was that those identified as politically savvy were
seen to operate ethically; resulting in much higher influence
throughout the organization than others. [see the ethics
is power section of the website]. The political savvy
advantage provides a clear grounding for establishing an ethical
basis for a culture. Each person has their own personal best.
Ethical based cultures bring out the personal best in most
people. The result is an increased impact of satisfaction