If you ask top executives at companies like Chevron, Danone, Johnson & Johnson, Sony Pictures, JP Morgan Chase, Air Canada, and dozens of others what their outlook is on key areas of business over the next 12 months, you’re bound to get a surprise. Or maybe two surprises. And that’s exactly what we got with our 2012 Insigniam Executive Sentiment Survey.

The survey, which polled 250 executives from Global 1000 firms, all drawn from Insigniam’s international customer base, revealed this: 76 percent of executives believe that innovation is very important to their ability to succeed and strengthen competitive advantage in the next three years.

Another 20 percent say innovation is important or somewhat important to success in the next few years — meaning that all but 4 percent of respondents give plenty of weight to the value of innovation. It’s surprising that so many executives now agree that innovation, both in business processes and in new products, is critical to success. And maybe more surprising that a small number of them don’t.

Here’s another critical finding from our survey: 42 percent of global, senior executives are frustrated by employees who are complacent in, or cynical about, their work. And, 38 percent are concerned about their employees’ potential performance over the next 12 months.

The real surprise there is that we’re not sure if all those executives who value innovation realize how connected cynicism and complacency are to their drive for change.

What we’ve learned from our work at Insigniam is that cynicism and complacency in the workplace can devastate the process of innovation. Want to innovate? Kill off complacency. Crush cynicism. You can’t effectively do one without also doing the others.

Does cynicism have a lock on your company? Assess your company now.

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