AN OLD STORY ABOUT INNOVATION

INNOVATION

Back during the time when I was working on my doctorate in organizational psychology (earlier called industrial/organizational psychology) there was a large focus on innovation and productivity.  At that time, we were hard at work studying what we, in the profession of organizational psychology, could do to motivate employees in order to bring about greater productivity.

Following on my earlier doctoral work, I later wrote the book “VALUE PLUS: EMPLOYEES AS VALUERS” which describes the ways that CEOs and other managers can work with their employees directly in order to generate greater motivation and productivity by employees – all the moves that bring about greater employee interest in the company that gives them a paycheck and a career, and, thus, in turn, brings about innovation – a great fringe benefit that a company derives from having very well satisfied – and motivated – employees.  Apparently people aren’t worrying about motivation these days – I suppose they expect other things to do the job that humans normally do – so why bother with humans.  A piece in the WSJ seems to imply this.  They claim that very large companies (those would be our corporate clients) are soaking up all the innovation in the country, and, even, the world, apparently, as examples of Swedish countries are given.  The article claims that this is the “fault” of the big companies who can afford the innovation including the wide use of robots among other things, while smaller companies cannot and, thus, fail.  My goodness – this sounds like a piece that was written during the Obama era when that administration was running around looking to blame the “big guy” at every turn for any failures of the “little guy,” regardless of the actual circumstances. The article recounts the example of IKEA who have managed to cut production efforts by 30 percent through the extensive use of robots. And, they whine about a smaller company that tried the same approach and failed.  I’ve been in the business for a long time, and, whether a company fails or succeeds depends solely on the management of that company and the expert use of the funds available to best effect – no matter the size.  The smaller company could, with good management, have started small and, incrementally, with investment of their earnings back into the company, have ultimately arrived at a point similar to IKEA – maybe not immediately, but, ultimately. So, let’s get real here – what really counts in achieving productivity is nothing new – it is still motivation.  Motivation brings about innovation – the WSJ – and others, apparently – are trying to skip the motivation stage and jump along to productivity with innovation in there somewhere – somehow.  As for me – I’d say let’s look at all the pieces of the puzzle – and try hard not to leave any of those vital elements out of the mix.

So, I’d suggest that it’s back to the study of organizational psychology for the WSJ!

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