A few weeks ago I found myself waiting around in a hotel. I was meeting some colleagues and found the drinks point and was contentedly making a cup of tea. In the same lounge were 4 people who were obviously having some kind of work session talking animatedly about their plans.
In blatantly eavesdropping on their conversation I heard mention of the ‘whack pack’ a cheap and easy tool I’ve seen used to try and give people stimulation for creativity (think De Bono’s hats) at which point I started to pay more attention. Eventually my eavesdropping became interruption as I engaged them in conversation about what they planned to do.
One of them went on (with obvious signs of excitement) to share how they planned to take a large group of employees at a certain management level within a financial institution and ‘make them more creative’. It seems the institution in question wanted to increase innovation and encourage entrepreneurship within their organisation and the response was a 3 day training course on creativity. The course, I must admit, sounded like it would be fun and the people were clearly passionate about giving the participants a well planned programme but I left their conversation thinking how much time and effort they were likely wasting.
For me this illustrates the disconnect between learning & development and organisational development and where well intentioned L&D practitioners waste passion, time, effort and money on interventions that in generating change and traction are about as much use as a chocolate fire guard.
Most organisations, as they should be, are set up with the governance and processes to successfully operate the activities that deliver their business outcomes. In most cases neither the governance nor the processes are set up to adapt to people from around the organisation coming up with great new ideas about things that could be done better or should be done differently. Firing up a whole group of employees with the tools and motivation to ‘be more creative’ I would liken to chucking them into the lion’s den with a complete absence of Christian support.
It is my belief that to successfully drive innovation within an organisation it is not creativity that needs to be addressed (walk around your business tomorrow and ask if anyone has any ideas – there’ll be loads) it’s how the organisation successfully considers those ideas, turns them into plans, funds them and executes them into sustainable change that is the challenge in being more innovative. In other words how does the system adapt to the change required that requires focus not the impetus for change.
In carrying out my project research most of the intrapreneurs I talked to hardly focused on the generation of ideas or discussed a shortage of ideas. It was how they successfully got them through ‘the machine’ and sustained personal commitment and organisation support that received the most focus.
I would get down on bended knee, or at least ask with some emphasis that in considering any similar significant investment in learning that L&D practitioners think not just about the Daniels but also think with some care about the lion’s den and realise that unless both are addressed change is unlikely to happen.