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(Page reetired August 2013, combined with this page.)

Why it is hard

A bottom-up approach can be messy. Ideas, reputations, egos and tight budgets compete. In large bureaucratic organizations, add lack of inertia, too many decision makers and turnover to the mix. Stir in the inevitable failures. It is stressful. The folks that develop the strategies often feel danger comes not from competitors without, but from turf protectors within.

Yet, every CEO I've spoken to privately said "innovation is the key to future successes." Every single one! And, they understand the value of stretching the organization. Its just they are CEOs and know publicly chasing every new idea can be very disruptive. The idea has to prove itself before the CEO tells everyone to change direction. They know that most of their employees are doers who need continuity. Constant change takes away the doers' greatest advantage, learning to do a job better.

To make bottom-up innovation part the culture, communicate a clear-cut rules for innovators.

To work against the grain, seek out the organization's future leaders and form a coalition.

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