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Innovate the Future: Are You Managing Innovation? Or Are You Crippling Innovation?

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If you don't want to hear what they really think, beware little kids and old ladies. Why? Because they'll tell you the 'unvarnished truth,' says David Croslin, author of Innovate the Future: A Radical New Approach to IT Innovation. If you could get your employees to tell you what they really think about the ground rules that management establishes to 'help' them innovate, would their answers surprise you?

See all of David Croslin's articles here.

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Most companies create a management infrastructure that can help drive innovation. But often the real need is information, not management. In fact, the management processes often deliver less innovation as the focus shifts away from understanding the current barriers that inhibit innovation. This article discusses how companies operate under a set of assumptions that can kill the company and its products. These assumptions normally cannot be corrected with new management goals alone.

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Art Linkletter, who passed away in May 2010 at the age of 97, had an astounding way with children. For over fifty years, he made us laugh with the honest and outspoken words of children via radio, TV, and in print. He felt that "Children under ten and women over seventy…speak the plain unvarnished truth." [1]

In his introduction to Mr. Linkletter's bestselling book Kids Say the Darndest Things, Walt Disney pronounced, "It is a shame that we must lose this forthright honesty, this searching curiosity, this drive of the imagination toward great deeds, exciting adventure, knowledge, achievements to win fame and honors and pleasure, in the process of 'growing up'. These are the qualities which the inventors retain, men like Edison, Fulton, DeForest—artists, poets, musicians, scientists, naturalists. The natural heritage of children."

In the case of young children, the "unvarnished truth" comes spilling forth because society has not yet created a box that limits the child's imagination and expression of that imagination. Over time, the adult's cultural and societal "best practices" will create a box that reigns in that honest evaluation of the universe at large.

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