Why Isn’t the “Idea Driven Organization” More Common?
Mark’s Note: This is a guest post from an old friend of the blog, Mark Edmondson. See his older guest posts from years back. He originally posted this on the AME website and he agreed to have me re-post it.
Alan Robinson and Dean Schroeder, the authors of the Lean classic Ideas Are Free: How the Idea Revolution Is Liberating People and Transforming Organizations (a must read for those of you who want to understand how to engage employees in CI) have recently published their newest book, The Idea-Driven Organization: Unlocking the Power in Bottom-Up Ideas.
Robinson and Schroeder present a compelling case for the business value of engaging employees:
- greater morale,
- competitive advantage,
- operational excellence…
…and they profess that the most effective leaders are the ones who practice humility and respect.
I, too, believe that humility combined with true respect for employees is powerful. I’ve seen it, I subscribe to it and I strive to model it. And I believe this type of servant leadership culture is key for a relevant, sustainable Lean transformation.
But, it seems like this style of leadership is also the exception rather than the norm among large American companies.
Why is this?
Is this idea-driven leadership style, in fact, less effective? Or is the ego-eccentric individual better at self-promotion and hence more successful in a typical hierarchical bureaucracy?
In their books, Robinson and Schroeder provide examples of companies which are role models. But virtually all of these are outside of the United States or are very small. Amongst North American large companies, which best exemplify the “Idea Driven Organization”? Has anyone ever conducted a study to identify these companies?
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