Harvesting Stories of Innovation Deaths

From a recent conversation about some innovative work that was recently stamped-out inside an organization after the supporter in the current leadership suddenly left (jobs ended, good work that was making a positive difference brought to an abrupt end – a death of sorts), I was reminded of speaker John Hagel who talked about innovation inside organizations. Some of his thoughts shared at BIF7:

  • Reduce the temptation to change the core; like our bodies, the current system’s antibodies will try and kill it. Instead, go to an edge.
  • Change making is about finding allies and over time building more allies. Key is finding an explorer as an ally; someone in the current leadership who sees possibility in the change you are trying to create.
  • Use metrics that matter to the core and as your experiments show success it will be difficult for the core to argue with your results.

This was very similar to Meg Wheatley’s perspective on innovation and invisibility (my rough notes are here). I wonder if enough of these stories are being harvested? The innovation efforts that get killed off? Or how others inside manage to succeed? I don’t mean the Walk Out Walk On kind of efforts, where people totally walk out of a current system to create something new. I mean more the work of activists inside organizations and current systems.

Where are you documenting and sharing the innovation efforts that get stamped-out, or the ones that manage to succeed inside an organization? How can we collectively learn when this happens?