“Every company says that it puts a premium on innovation, but in practice many have a culture that is intolerant to risk.
Ron Ashkenas, a managing partner of Schaffer Consulting, and Lisa Bodell, the founder and CEO of innovation training company FutureThink, write in Harvard Business Review about a survey they conducted with employees of a global company that publicly touted how much it supported research and development of new products, processes, and practices. Only 17 percent said their bosses would approve and reward them if they developed and tried “new and untested ideas.” A whopping 47 percent said the reaction would be “unpredictable.”
“Most senior managers agree that taking risks is important for innovation, but in far too many cases, they don’t act like they believe this,” Ashkenas and Bodell write. “In other words, the reality in many organizations today is that despite the public emphasis on innovation, the underlying culture may be strongly risk-averse. As one senior manager in a large financial institution said to one of us (only partially tongue-in-cheek), ‘The key to success here is to never make the same mistake once.'”
If this sounds like you and your fellow executives, then you have some work to do. Below, see how Ashkenas and Bodell suggest you can become more like Tesla, Google, and other companies with environments that are properly open to risk and tolerant of ones that don’t pay off. ….”