business

The Quality Movement Vs. The Innovation Movement.

I talked with Gary Hamel the other day. He did a book, as I recall, with CK Prahalad years ago that developed the concept of
Bruce Nussbaum

I talked with Gary Hamel the other day. He did a book, as I recall, with CK Prahalad years ago that developed the concept of "core competence" and he's worked on innovation for many years. We talked about our personal experiences in trying to innovate within our own organizational cultures--how hard it is. And Hamel said something that stunned me. He said that it took 20 years for the Quality Movement to really take hold in Corporate America and that it would probably take 20 years for the Innovation Movement to do the same.

Wow. It makes sense. The father of quality, of course, was Dr. W. Edwards Demming, and he preached for a very long time before he was really heard. In fact, as I recall, Japanese companies first accepted Demmings teachings long before U.S. and European corporations.

Innovation is the new black among managers these days. Everyone talks about it. And many are starting to do the hard work to make it happen. But only a few realize that it may take an entire generation to make their corporations totally innovative, from the HR people to the scientists, from the engineers to the accountants. Google gets this, but then Google is a new company built from scratch. Most other companies are in the stage of building Innovation Gyms, tacking on innovation to their organizations. Some are going further by also doing workshops to change their culture and opening up and partnering up to bring in outside voices. But few realize just how hard it can be--or how long it will probably take. Do we have the time?

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