I was just having a browse on Amazon after a recent coffee chat with a professor from Sydney University Business School
We were talking about how big successful companies form themselves around a certain repeatability, ISO standards, Six Sigma, and so on.
The key word is Repeatability. And Fortune 500s, especially are really, really good at this.
Doing something over and over and over again, each time, fine tuning it, and sandpapering any rough edge and friction from the system.
So much so, that it becomes known as "The [insert company name] Way."
On Amazon I quickly found The IBM Way, the Mckinsey Way, The Walmart Way, The Alibaba Way, two different books on The Google Way, and four -- count 'em, four -- books called The Toyota Way.
That's fine if the answers you want tomorrow are the same as the answer you need today.
But in turbulent 2020 it's often not.
And that's fine if your way is already one of relentless curiosity and creativity.
But that's rarely the case in a Fortune 500, because your status quo became an immune system.
So the innovation challenge turns out to be that we actually need people in our company who DON'T think the same way as us. But we hired a standing army of people who DID think the same way. Because, when they didn't, the system, the history, the social force of the status quo, made them feel like outsiders.
So either they put their head down below the rampart, or they took their fresh thinking elsewhere.
Here's a question to insert into your next meeting then:
"What's the last possible way you would imagine us solving this challenge/opportunity?"