Middle Managers and Innovation?


Is the one of the biggest innovation barriers in corporate world today – the way to convince middle managers to contribute in innovation?

Jeffrey Phillips, in his book Relentless Innovation defines this problem with following:

In a world where so many factors are in flux, middle managers count on business as usual as a reliable, trustworthy way to get work done efficiently and effectively and they are therefore avid defenders of the model, often rejecting innovation.”

In the process of establishing Innovation Culture or during Innovation Campaigns there are many question which can come from middle managers such as:

  • “We run our daily business and don’t have time for new ideas.”
  • “How can you convince me that this idea will get us ahead of competitors?”
  • “The risk of failing is too high and we cannot avoid ourselves to lose time.”
  • “We need only improvements of our good-selling product.”
  • “I can’t see how new idea can influence our daily work as we work upon customer wishes.”
  • Even worse is when there is simply no answer.
  • So, how to convince them to become innovation evangelists?

So, how to convince them to become innovation evangelists?

Innovation must be promoted from the top levels. There should be clear Innovation Strategy and it must be pointed out that without new products/ideas there will be no (bright) future. Success stories are the best weapon, as this is the way to bring the arguments. There is no better way to show the importance of innovation, then showing realized examples inside the company or the ones done by competitors.

Middle managers could be in the center of Innovation activities, like decision makers in Innovation Process or presenters on the Ideation Workshops or even starters of Innovation Campaigns. Once they are on the “side of Innovation”, company is on the way to have realized innovations-products and to start a powerful innovation machine out of already established innovation process.

One thought on “Middle Managers and Innovation?

  1. This is an interesing blog for working professionals. Just would like to add one more point. There should be considerable appreciation for the middle managers who bring some new thought into the business. The top level should bring into light the effort from their managers.


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