In an email Michael Schrage took me to task for my critique of his recent article ("The Key to Innovation: Overcoming Resistance") in CIO Magazine. Michael provided the following elaboration:
"Because the thrust of my column is that many - if not most - firms try to overcome resistance NOT
by identifying its sources and managing them BUT by coming up with YET ANOTHER IDEA to overcome
In other words, autocratic/totalitarian firms notwithstanding, there is a bias to invest
more thought in coming up with 'better' ideas than with implementing 'tactics' and 'methodologies'
to identify and overcome resistance..."
Point well taken. Schrage's point is about the balance of investments and the prevailing tendency in firms to over-invest in new ideas instead of implementations. But Schrage's deeper point, I believe, is about the importance of understanding organizational cultures as a key dimension in driving and managing innovation.
In re-reading the article, I realized that Schrage also provides a very useful heuristic for understanding the innovation culture in a firm: "Grasping the essence of an innovation culture is astonishingly easy. Simply fill in the blank. Whenever a good idea is proposed, you'll find the core values of an innovation culture in the words that follow this common phrase: "We can't do that because..."
Granting Schrage's point, the question still remains (and was the basis of my original post) whether there is a difference in the innovation culture of a firm intent on chasing disruptive innovation as well as sustained innovation. Also, is there an inherent tension between the two?