Monday, April 20, 2009

How to stifle innovation

Thanks to NPR I discovered this terrific video on You Tube:

It was produced by an astronaut, Andy Thomas, and tells the (fictional) story of an engineer at
Johnson Space Center who has a great new idea. The video shows how the idea is stifled and killed. The pithy text comments that overlay the video and provide commentary are wonderful.

I am sure you will laugh as you watch the video. I challenge you to look in the mirror after you have watched it and tell yourself that this would never happen in your company.

I suspect that the innovation-blocking behaviours shown in the film are all too common.

The fact that this is NASA is especially poignant. After the space shuttle Columbia accident, the investigation board said NASA's culture had stifled dissenting opinions from engineers who were concerned about potential dangers. Your company may never face life or death situations as NASA do, but I think this little homemade video has much to teach us all about how easy it is to stifle innovation.

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