If someone from your company’s leadership team asks you to locate an outside consultant to help your organization raise the bar for innovation, stop for a moment and ask the person asking you to locate an outside consultant to answer the following questions.
If they answer “NO” to any of them or look at you as if you are ungrateful, uppity, or “not a team player”, do not accept the assignment.
Really. I mean it. DO NOT ACCEPT THE ASSIGNMENT.
If you’re afraid to decline the assignment, not only is the project doomed, but you will soon end up experiencing the kind of low grade corporate virus that leads people to drink too much, feel depressed, or become overly judgmental of their colleagues.
If you say YES to the “go find me a consultant” request without understanding the current reality of your senior team, you will only be going on a wild goose chase — wasting your time, theirs, and the TBD consulting company’s who will be asked to quickly generate a hefty proposal that few, if any, of your senior leaders will be ready, willing, or able to respond to.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR SENIOR LEADERS BEFORE LOOKING FOR AN OUTSIDE INNOVATION CONSULTANT
1. Do you have a clear, compelling vision of our organization’s future? If not, are you willing to create one?
2. Are you personally committed to fostering a culture of innovation? Are other senior leaders on the same page with you? If not, are you and your colleagues willing to get on the same page within the next few weeks?
3. Are senior leaders willing to walk the talk — modeling the kind of behaviors they want to see others manifesting on the job?
4. Are you willing to challenge the status quo?
5. Are you open to receiving new ideas from the workforce — and are you willing to establish a process that will make it easy for them to do so?
6. Are you willing to listen more deeply to what employees are thinking and feeling?
7. Are you committed to establishing and supporting an Innovation Council that will drive the process to raise the bar for innovation?
8. Are you willing to invest in a long-term approach, rather than treating the effort as a flavor-of-the-year initiative?
9. Are you willing to go beyond “command and control”, empower people, and push decision making further down the food chain?
10. Are you open to input, guidance, and coaching from an outside company who can support you and the senior team in all of the above?
If you are unable or unwilling to ask these kinds of questions, the only thing you will end up achieving is further enabling the “kick the can down the road” mentality of your organization’s senior team. By asking you to find an outside consultant to “help”, they will have paid their dues for the moment and maybe be better able to sleep that night, but the whole thing will be little more than a charade — one that simulates the effort to foster organizational change, but in the end is merely a clever way to fiddle while Rome burns.
Beyond sage on the stage consulting
Culture of Innovation Keynote
Storytelling as an innovation catalyst