Questions

In the book "Loonshots", author Safi Bahcall indicates that looming barriers to innovation include:
Organization size
Structure
Reward systems

In his theory, organizations above a certain size threshold (roughly about 150 people, not very big) shift in a couple of key ways that tend to put the brakes on innovation.

First, they'll notice a change in motivation. Larger companies tend to have a more hierarchical structure, leading to more opportunities for promotion. As a result, employees' thinking shifts away from the "mission" of the job and company, and toward how to get promoted, get the bigger bonus, and so on. As a part of this, the influence of, and opportunity for, organizational politics increases as well.

Second, the hierarchical structure creates a few barriers in itself - more red tape, more silos, and more job specialization. Employees become more narrow in their focus and spend more productive time working on organizational requirements than on their jobs, much less on ways to innovate within their job, organization, or industry.

With smaller organizations, innovation is not guaranteed - it must become a part of the collective culture or focus of the organization, and time and latitude for innovative and creative thinking must be accommodated (but not mandated or fenced in, like the mythical 15% of the workweek allocated by certain tech companies). However, with less time spent focusing on politics, red tape, getting promoted, and more time "cross-pollinating" with others in the organization, there is far more opportunity and success in innovative thinking.

I'd love to discuss this further with you by phone - please don't hesitate to reach out.


Answered 2 years ago

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