It takes transformational leadership at the executive level to foster a culture conducive to innovation.
Without this kind of leadership your organization’s corporate gravity will limit creativity and innovation.
We are all familiar with the forces of earth’s gravity, but what is corporate gravity? How does it limit creativity and growth?
How do you overcome those inherent organizational factors that frequently limit growth so you can soar upward into the realms of successful innovation and creativity?
Corporate gravity has its source most often in success. A company develops a core product (or service) that produces a growing income stream. This income then comes to support a large portion of the organization.
Next, the company grows and is shaped around this core through the rules, structures, and systems that support and protect this core stream to continue to flow.
Without transformational leadership that actively fosters a culture of innovation, corporate gravity suppresses even potent innovations from coming to fruition.
For example, Kodak was excellent with photographic film and created the personal camera industry but they were not prepared for the sudden market shift to digital. They were stuck in their own corporate gravity.
• In 1975 they invented the digital camera and much of the technology used in digital imaging, but back shelved this innovation.
• In 1996 they had peak revenues of $16 billion.
• In 2004 they reorganized around digital imaging (a decade after the first camera hit the market).
• In 2012 they declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
What happened? The corporate gravity of the organization—the very structures, thinking and systems that allowed them to succeed in film—caused the new digital innovation to languish in a dark room somewhere.
What can transformational leadership do to transcend the deadening forces of corporate gravity?
Ultimately, this takes building a culture in which creativity and innovation can flourish by creating a new process that identifies both those factors that limit growth and creativity, and those that inspire them.
ACTION: Have a conversation with a colleague exploring what mindsets and practices that have brought success might actually suppress future innovation in your company?
COMING NEXT: The first phase is identifying those factors that limit innovation and growth. There are three main limiting factors. The first is corporate gravity. In our next two posts we will examine the impact of the other two: corporate myopia and the corporate immune system.