Some years ago I offered coaching to organization innovators.  It’s exhausting fighting the inertia of the status quo and professional innovators need support.  I’m not the only one who noticed.  There’s a new book titled, Conquering Innovation Fatigue: Overcoming the Barriers to Personal and Corporate Success.  The authors note that innovators are similar to immigrants in a strange land.  They’ve moved here but they feel out of place and they act funny compared to the natives (anyone with the Hogan “Imaginative” Derailer will recognize this phenomenon).

The book identifies nine major organizational and personal factors that contribute to innovation fatigue.  Factors range all the way from outright idea stealing (they cite the story of windshield wiper theft told in Flash of Genius) to the grinding bureaucracy of regulatory and tax burdens, not to mention the thorny path of establishing intellectual property rights.

The factor that jumped out for me was impatience.  The authors write:
“In a world where numerous barriers need to be overcome even under the most ideal situations, impatience on the part of an inventor (or innovating company) can be fatal.

[um, fatal?!].  They continue, “Patience will almost always be needed when the goal is to change the way people and organizations behave.”

photo by dominiccampbell

There you have it.  Cultivate patience.

I know it’s possible.  Recently I listened to the CEO of a biotech company discuss his approach to guiding the company to success. He told the story of working with an important group of stakeholders.  He’d done his homework and had a very strong point-of-view.  But he said, “Don’t force a decision.“.  He went on to describe the value of discussion, sharing information and allowing the decision to unfold.

So, for all of you who have been praised for your ‘bias-for-action’ and believe that impatience IS a virtue I propose the alternative.  Patience is a virtue when it comes to innovation .  You’ll need it for the long haul.