A few months ago I was at an innovation workshop and noticed something strange; of the 125 participants or so who were at the workshop there were only two CEO’s in the audience.
This workshop was one about transforming your company and providing significant cultural change. It covered the topic of innovation and I’m hard pressed to find a more important topic for leaders of companies to get behind.
My problem with the composition of the participants in this particular workshop was the lack of CEO’s in attendance. Sending your people to a seminar does not make for a change in your business. If you as the leader of your company can’t bother to come why would you believe that your people will be able to institute changes to make your company more innovative?
Changing culture is hard and without support from the top, impossible. I don’t think it’s improbable that culture will change; I think it’s impossible to change when you as top management are not intimately involved. Without leadership from the top the culture in your company won’t change, and in this particular case your company will not become any more innovative.
Too often owners and leaders of companies think that if they send people to workshops that what’s being taught will magically be instituted at their company. If you think this is going to magically happen in your company you are sadly mistaken.
If you’re the CEO and don’t do the hard work of cultural change, it’s just not going to happen. It’s nice that you can send your employees to great programs on how to be more innovative, create niches, or make our companies lean. If you don’t actually show up to learn what it’s all about and understand the challenges in making changes real then those hoped for changes won’t ever get off the ground.
The problem in creating something new is there is too much inertia against change even if the change is for the better. You have to be very clear about what’s going to happen and give support to those trying to make changes.
I’ve noticed that when leaders of companies and organizations don’t have a clear understanding of what the goals of change are, changes won’t happen. This means that to have meaningful changes and implementation of new ideas you will have to show up, and showing up means going to change programs with your people. If you’re not willing to attend you will likely waste your money and the time of the people you send to these programs.
Change only happens when owners are intimately involved. Without their participation and support we just waste time, money, and effort.
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