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Leading for Innovation: And Organizing for Results by Iain Somerville, Marshall Goldsmith, Frances Hesselbein

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6.2. Rules for Stifling Innovation

Lurking behind the virtues of innovation are two painful truths. First, innovation can be a pain in the neck for leaders—a nuisance, a disruption, an inconvenience, and even worse, a risk. Second, it is hard for leaders to predict or control innovation; the innovation process is messy rather than orderly.

It is therefore easier for leaders to praise innovation in theory than to support it in practice. Top managers sometimes ask me questions about innovation that are unintentionally humorous: "We want more innovation. Who else is doing it?" or "We want more innovation. We just don't want to be the first." Even companies known for innovation are more likely to support ideas that fall within existing parameters, ...

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