We trust innovation to bring our organization’s success; but can we trust ourselves to innovate. In many companies, we preach a great sermon about the need to “think outside the box” and “embrace change.” Despite this great preaching, few efforts actually manage to convert the organization into an innovative success. Despite our best intentions, most innovation efforts fall flat simply because the organization itself was designed to prevent it. While we encourage creativity, we exist inside a system built to discourage it. This is the paradox Lisa Bodell confronts in Kill The Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution.
Kill The Company is named after one of the many tools Bodell uses to help organizations step outside themselves and be truly free enough to think creatively about what their needs are. The exercise, like many in her book, is designed to get participants to think of their company different. Instead of asking, “how can we beat the competition?” she argues for asking, “how can the competition beat us? How can we kill the company?” I like this approach, and there’s actually some solid research behind the idea of enhancing creativity by reframing questions to think from a different perspective. My second favorite take away from Bodell is the “Kill a Stupid Rule” exercise – where the policies that hinder performance are put on trial and executed.
Kill The Company reads like a call to arms – meaning it is long on inspirational case studies sprinkled with a few decent exercises to get creativity flowing. There isn’t too much discussion on the evidence for why Bodell’s exercises might work – though there is such evidence for many of them. If you’re looking for an empirical book on innovation, this is not it. If you’re looking for a call to arms to inspire yourself or your company toward innovation, Kill The Company just might be the rallying cry you need.