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Making innovation happen.

I want to respond to your ideas about innovation ("Editor's Note," November 2005) and what there is still to be learned.

As a fan of innovation, I have seen many organizations stunted because their people are not ready to let go of the old. There is a fear factor in beginning something new and having to change what they know and do. Many people start a job learning and growing and then hit a place that is comfortable. Then they innovate in other ways--start a family, hobbies, etc.--and lose interest in growing their skills in the workplace. This creates a stagnant atmosphere where innovators are less than likely to stay or succeed, as innovation requires a team effort.

Also, some leaders have developed egos that are so dependent on the current system that they will fight to maintain it and look for ways to sabatoge the changes that are necessary to move an organization forward. A top performer is not necessarily an innovator. He or she will give you suggestions on how to make the existing system better, but remember, they like it the way it is because they are succeeding in the current system. The pain is not as great for them to innovate. There is an attitude of "Don't let it go until you have to." This is where accountability is critical. The company is not innovating if the majority of staff are not experiencing success.

I would agree with you that innovation has more than one definition, however. It is the people who define it, and the sooner leadership can help employees see the value in change for not only the organization but for them personally, and help them feel secure in the process, the sooner they will gain the necessary followers to make change happen.

RESPONSES

Couldn't agree with you more. But I would add the schools to the list of dummies. How many MBAs, business or accounting grads come out with any knowledge of letters of credit, licenses or even simple things like using chambers of commerce to make contacts overseas?

I have manufactured overseas and we ship about 30 percent of our products offshore and import about 70 percent of our product content. All this in a $25 million company. I'm appalled at how ignorant many owner/CEOs, whom I meet socially, are in this area.

Joe Eichberger

CEO, AMT Datasouth

Camarillo, Calif.

Brenda Vester

Vice President

Lee Hecht Harrison

Pittsburgh, Pa.
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Title Annotation:FEEDBACK
Author:Vester, Brenda
Publication:Chief Executive (U.S.)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Apr 1, 2006
Words:409
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