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What do to when ideas are crushed

Question :

I attended a workshop recently that stressed the importance of innovation in the workplace. The speaker made a lot of sense and pointed to examples of hugely successful companies that flourish because of their openness to ideas and collaborative work culture. Then I returned to work the next day, to the reality of an environment that is the complete opposite of these ideals – where obeisance to bureaucracy and keeping one’s head down are the only ways to succeed. Is there any way an individual employee can change that mindset?

Posted by Stifled on Saturday, 22 Nov 2014

Comments :

Innovation in the workplace is essential for the long-term success of an organisation. History is littered with examples of industry success stories who failed to move with the times and fell by the wayside. Conversely, the ability of organisations like IBM to reinvent themselves continually has made them an enduring brand on the corporate landscape.

My first point would be that if you have an opportunity to work in an innovative workplace which stands out for its open and collaborative culture, jump at the opportunity. While organisations strive for perfection, it is unfortunately very rarely achieved.

When trying to change the mindset of an organisation, every employee can make a difference and in fact must take personal responsibility for making that change. While this is initially challenging and progress can be slow, momentum can build and change the outlook of the business very quickly.

On the other hand, if everyone feels it is all too much effort, the status quo will remain. Incidentally, these employees are the ones that can take a previously innovative business down, as the attitude can be infectious.

When evaluating an opportunity for my candidates, I look at three areas: the organisation, the people and the job. People often mention money, but from my experience that is a secondary factor and is actually contained in the three areas mentioned above. From reading your question, it clearly sounds like you are frustrated with both the organisation and the people who work there. The job that you are doing would therefore have to be excellent to offset those frustrations.

If you feel that there is no consensus from senior management to change the culture then I would suggest going out and looking at other opportunities. It is also better to do this sooner rather than later as looking for a new position from a position of frustration is when bad decisions are made.

Remember, you should only move on for something that is better and is going to take your career forward in the short, medium and long term.

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