I'm not sure what the magic formula for innovation is. I've read books about it. Thought about it. Kept track of companies that seem to be good at it.

In an effort to assist everyone else who's been trying to figure out the secret, I offer tips for helping your employees to stay clear of innovation:

1. Explain to your employees that times are tough so innovation must go on the back burner.

2. Further explain that there's no reason to despair--a high-level executive will be spending a lot of his time working on an innovation plan for the company (whatever that means).

3. Let a lot of time pass and say nothing about it. Pretend that things are just fine.

4. In the meantime, do nothing to alter the company's fundamental cultural and organizational problems--you know, the ones that have been in the way of an open an innovative busniess the whole time.

5. When asked about the mysterious "innovation plan" at an all-company meeting, explain that the executive is still working on it. Really! He is! Divulge no more.

There you have it. Five easy steps to sucking the innovative life out of employees who used to care about that sort of thing.

Posted by jzawodn at January 16, 2003 11:22 PM

Reader Comments
# FRC said:

I'm pretty sure I worked for a company that implemented that -exact- plan. It worked, too! You should write a book or something.

on January 17, 2003 10:57 AM
# Josh Woodward said:

What's this? It Pimpmaster Zent sitting in his lair working on brave new way to innovate parking lot security? I'd just sit back and let him work his magic if so. Your powers of innovation are useless against the likes of Him.

on January 17, 2003 12:10 PM
# Babu said:

Here's a sixth one. Tell employees they don't take initiative for anything - ie., if they belong to a support function, they do *only* things that are asked of them.

IMO, innovation = 90% initiative and 10% execution. You don't appreciate taking initiative, you loose enthusiasm and innovation goes straight out.

on January 17, 2003 05:00 PM
# havoc said:

What a wasteful plan! You should look into the Post Sam Walton Wal-mart Innovation Plan:

- Put glowing words in your recruiting literature about looking for people who think “outside the box.”
- Encourage local stores to have “grass roots” meetings to come up with ideas/innovations.
- Have the employees that attend the “grass roots” meetings sign in with employee id.
- Take careful notes during the meetings about who the real innovators are.
- Fire the trouble makers/innovators on Monday based on the notes from the “grass roots” meeting.

In areas, like Pharmacy, where the personnel are difficult or expensive to replace, simply accuse the innovators/trouble makers of having your own weaknesses on their annual reviews, take credit for their work and humiliate them at every turn until they give up in despair, and become mindless drones.

on January 17, 2003 09:59 PM
# Tim said:

Sounds like someone might be burning out. If so, my recommendation is to be careful, because the water is not warm out here -- find a new boat before jumping out of the listing ship.

on January 18, 2003 12:36 AM
# Robert Scoble said:

Oh, boy. Heh, how about this one: promote people to management who don't care about the product.

Or, don't ever say something nice to your employees (not to mention hand out cash awards) even though your employees are doing four people's jobs.

Or, if someone starts a weblog, immediately fire him because it's inevitable that they'll give away company secrets there.

Or, sexually harrass the secretary (shit, let's not hold back, just sleep with her and promote her to management).

Oh, and if you have to cut back, make sure you fire all those people who actually do the work and keep all the managers. That'll help innovation for sure.

You gotta figure out which of the above I've actually witnessed in the past 24 months. :-)

on January 18, 2003 12:47 AM
# john said:

Ugh... shitty day huh Jeremy?

on January 18, 2003 02:52 PM
# anon said:

um, so how long have you been working at Lucent - or as we used to like to say - the sphincter of innovationn (see logo of Lucent for explanation)

on January 18, 2003 03:30 PM
# Derek said:

Wanna job, Z?

on January 18, 2003 03:56 PM
# Derek said:

Wanna job, Z?

on January 18, 2003 03:58 PM
# Derek said:

Wanna job, Z?

on January 18, 2003 03:59 PM
# Derek said:

Argh... safari bug. Sorry.

on January 18, 2003 04:00 PM
# Ask Bjoern Hansen said:

You should read Fast Company once in a while; they very often have neat articles about the kind of thing.

- ask

on January 19, 2003 04:03 AM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.


Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.