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How to Squelch Innovation

How to Squelch Innovation

by Frank Roche on December 21, 2006

in Creativity, Motivation

Tyner Blain’s Top Ten Tips for Preventing Innovation is brilliant. It should be required reading for everyone in the people business (which is all of us). Three nuggets:

Keep salaries below the 75th percentile. Innovators know their value – and when they aren’t applying for jobs with intrinsic utility to them, they are commanding higher salaries. If we keep our salaries low, there’s much less risk of one of these innovators sneaking into our organization. As a bonus, we’ll save a fortune!

Reward conservative and marginal successes. The old rule of thumb for office politics was “It takes ten good projects to recover from one bad project.” Stick to it! If we punish people for mistakes when they ’swing for the fences’, and reward them for marginal and safe projects, they will quickly get the idea. This is the most subtle of all the tips – but don’t worry – people will figure out the reward system and shy away from those risky projects. This technique has the added benefit of propogating itself up and down the management hierarchy. Many organizations get lucky, and do this one accidentally. Wish we were all so lucky!

Make performance reviews easy. Create some easy-to-measure metrics (like # of sick-days taken, # of powerpoint slides created, # of meetings attended), and use those for performance reviews. People always gravitate toward the metric. We can run the reviews with a minimum of effort, giving us more time to tell them how to do their jobs. Just an hour a year. Some managers can give feedback in 15 minutes.

Rock on, Tyner!

[via the very good Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog]


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