A rose-tinted view of innovation

Mar 30 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Top management often has a distinctly rose-tinted view of how their company is doing when it comes to innovation in products and technology, a view often at odds with those they are leading.

A survey by research company Sirota Survey Intelligence has found senior-level executives are more likely to be satisfied with their organisation's innovation in products and technology, while their professional technocrats, such as engineers and programmers, are the least satisfied.

Whereas nearly three quarters of senior-level executives said they were satisfied, just six out of 10 professional employees felt the same way, rising to seven out of 10 mid-level managers.

What this showed, said Sirota, was a worrying gap between how both sides viewed their success at innovation.

"While the satisfaction of lower and mid-level managers with the innovation of their companies falls somewhere in the middle, professional employees are clearly the least satisfied," said Sirota president Douglas Klein.

"This may be a cause for concern, since professionals are the ones most responsible for the development of new ideas that lead to practical product and service innovations," he said.

"The much higher satisfaction of senior managers with their companies' innovation than that expressed by professional employees may be signalling the need for a more in-depth dialogue between these two groups about what is truly in the innovation pipeline, and what barriers professionals believe are standing in the way," Klein added.


Older Comments

At first this survey seems to be saying something important yet the results show differences between professional employees, middle managers, and senior executives are fairly small and exactly what we might expect.

7.5/10 senior managers are satisfied, 7/10 middle managers, and 6/10 professional employees. Hardly huge differences are they?

However they do underline a finding from much other research with is that innovation itself is greater lower down in the organisation. Why? Because there are more people, more diversity, more necessity, more energy, and less reason to defend the status quo.

Max Mckeown