Take a look around your organization. Are you and your colleagues spending more time and energy on “cover your ass” activities than innovation?
Do any of these sound familiar?
The “cover your ass” email: Copying every supervisor to shame another employee into getting work done or doing something out of the ordinary.
The “cover your ass” meeting: Called by someone who is worried about taking the blame for a future disaster. This person knows how to play the “game” and understand how to use this meeting as a tool to spread blame and responsibility. These can also be disguised as daily or weekly status meetings. Beware.
The “cover your ass” post-mortem: Typically called by a manager who finds out about a issue that has already been solved. This meeting is easily identified by phrases like “let’s get together and have a postmortem on this one.” Question: Why isn’t there ever a post-mortem when everything when right?
Innovating by example
Leading broad organizational change is a huge undertaking but individual innovators can have significant impacts on their teams and departments.
Lead by example. Don’t accept wasting efforts and time spent with cover your ass tactics. Don’t accept not trying. Don’t accept not taking responsibility.
Learn how to lead effective meetings. Productive meetings have 3 key components:
- Stated purpose and agenda
- Concrete action items
- A hard stop time
Be caring and collaborative. Handling conflict within a team or on a project is a critical component of innovation cultures. When colleagues know they are in a collaborative environment and accept feedback as caring versus critical everyone becomes less defensive and more open to change.
In a society where mistakes are often penalized or punished it is no surprise that we spend so much more energy deflecting mistakes and working to cover them or ourselves at work. This behavior destroys and discourages innovation. No matter what level of the organization, though, we all have the ability and responsibility to innovate by example.