The Danger of Drive: Don’t Go Too Fast With Innovation Initiatives

Posted by jartese on Apr 10, 2014 12:27:10 PM


by Stefan Lindegaard

Innovation leaders, corporate innovators, intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs have lots of drive. They make things happen and this is one of their key qualities. But there is also a thing such as too much drive.

A while back, I had a couple of incidents where this became very clear. Both incidents evolved around people in new jobs. They had been hired to bring change to their organizations and they were eager to show their capabilities. They were actually doing a great job having started several successful initiatives. But they wanted even more while doing it even faster.

And then they forgot that they had some fairly unique capabilities. Most people do not have a similar drive and even more people prefer status quo rather than change. When such types collide, the people with drive get frustrated and they might even start to doubt their own capabilities and whether they belong to this new organization.

The strange thing is that they had every opportunity to be successful. As I observed what happened, I also got some executive perspective on the situation. It turned out that the executives would be happy if these innovation drivers had started just a third of the initiatives they had undertaken.

The thing is that people with drive sometimes move too fast for others to keep up with them. Or they may set the bar higher than other people are prepared to reach.  Also, people with drive sometimes are moving so fast that they fail to communicate fully with others about where they are headed and why others should follow.

There are two lessons here: 1) know your stakeholders and how you can work with as well as around them and 2) be prepared to adjust your own goals and expectations.

People with a high drive need to keep in mind that the change they are so eager to bring along affects other people, who can put up roadblocks if they think you are going too far too fast. You can identify and map these people and get a sense of how they feel about the things you want to change. Are they backers, blockers or neutral? Why do they have this position? Here you also need to understand a key element for bringing along changes. Everyone will be asking themselves a simple question: What’s in it for me? If you cannot answer this question for them, chances are that you are facing a skeptic or an outright blocker of your efforts.

You can take this approach not only during the preparation of new initiatives but also during the implementation. This will also give you a better understanding of what success looks like. Maybe you also have to adjust your own goals and expectations – up or down – on this.

Topics: Innovation Insights

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