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Let go of the control

mads kjøller damkjær | børsen ledelse | 9 june 2017

Read the full article in Danish

Mads Kjøller Damkjær, an innovation expert at PA, discusses how companies tend to compile policies, guidelines and procedures, and find it difficult to part with them again. This creates a culture of fear where employees worry about being punished for breaking the rules. 

"It’s thought-provoking that the vast majority of companies in our innovation report say their performance management system rewards uniformity over creativity. That makes it difficult to innovate current business models in order to create the success of tomorrow," says Mads. 

There are five steps companies can take to create a more innovative, less controlling culture. 

Number one is to to ask if all rules and regulations are really needed, and consider whether some of them could be eliminated. For the controls companies actually need, it´s worth finding out if some of them can be taken over by new technologies. 

The second step is to adopt an agile approach by putting together teams with a diverse background and expertise, and assign them clearly outlined tasks with short deadlines. That will open up to experiments that can be tested without applying the usual KPIs.

Thirdly, companies should work to attract the innovative talents they need by creating a culture they’d like to be part of by focusing on building a less hierarchical organisation with a clear purpose and a team oriented approach. 

Step four is to switch roles within the organisation. Introducing employees to new teams and colleagues can boost creativity and help kick-start new projects. 

Number five is to reward failure, not punish it, and encourage employees to experiment and take risks. Failure should’t be considered a problem because failing can lead to better solutions if companies understand how to learn from it and move on. 

"Last, but not least, change must start at the top. Management must make sure the organisation gets rid of unnecessary rules and regulations, breaks down rigid hierarchies and encourage a culture where creativity and innovation will thrive," states Mads.

Mads Kjøller Damkjær is an innovation expert at PA Consulting Group 

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