Move From Consensus to Alignment

March 26, 2007  

Here is another tip from my new “innovation tips” book.

There are two extremes of innovation culture. One is “the right of infinite appeal.” This is a culture where anyone, anytime, has the right to veto any suggestions, bring the process back to the starting point. In this environment, very little gets done, and innovation is completely stifled, as everything is reduced to the lowest common denominator. This is the most common culture – the consensus culture.

The other extreme is “run and gun.” These are companies with lots of people with lots of ideas, all of which seem to be getting implemented simultaneously. The good news here is, there is in fact quite a bit of action. Unfortunately, no one is talking to anyone else, and everyone is doing work in his little corner of the universe. It creates more anarchy than progress.

A company needs to strive for a combination of these two: well-thought-out ideas that get incubated and propagated rapidly through an organization.

The solution?

Organizations should strive for alignment. Using this philosophy, people in the organization say, “Even though this is not my solution and is not the way I would implement it, I will support it as though it were my idea.”

This is a simple, yet wildly powerful tool for gaining momentum with teams. Instill this mindset early in the process and you will find incredible gains throughout your innovation journey.

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