Sorry, but we are different!

Image courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

‘Yes but… we are different’ is an excuse I hear quite often when managers are confronted with the challenge of making radical changes. (or sometimes even not so radical ones)

A typical conversation about focusing on increasing collaboration and lowering barriers revolves around these lines:

Yes, we know collaboration is key to innovation, but…

– We are different

– We are unique

– Our teams work differently

– We are in a different marketplace. In fact we are the market creators there is no-one else

– We recruit only the very best and you know they all have egos so they won’t collaborate.

– We are so large that anything remotely transformational is difficult to execute.

And the list goes on.

In my book there are three types of organizations when it comes to getting their employees working with each other: the ones that don’t know what works, those who know and don’t do anything about it, and then there are the IBM’s of the world.

IBM is large (huge actually), they hire some really smart people (arguably smart is an understatement) and they ‘get it’. With Employee engagement being the critical area of focus, IBM isn’t letting its size come in the way of building ‘a more egalitarian workplace where employees feel they have more control over decisions’.

The company’s “Corporate Crowdfunding” system is an excellent platform to stimulate innovation and get small impactful projects off the ground without having to deal with permissions and approvals. The platform is all about collaborative innovation, which lets its 430k+ workforce spread over 170 countries connect and collaborate on small projects.  (Read more about the project at the BBC Capital Story: Sparking Innovation from the Bottom Up)

For all the “Yes…But…” managers who feel they need a CEO approved grand strategy and mega budget to get collaboration and innovation going, it’s time for a re-think.