Do we reward innovation, or merely hope for it?

I was looking over the last few blog posts and realized that the real purpose behind many of our innovation processes is to help us to work around traditional corporate reward systems.  Defining Active Thinking is a way to ascribe value to a process that many clients undervalue.  Brendan commented that mind-mapping tools are useful because they help to make thought processes more visible, and what's visible is more likely to be rewarded.

Organizations have good reasons for rewarding tangible, predictable processes.  Their main businesses typically revolve around providing high quality, consistent, relaible products or services.  The problem arises when they apply the same reward systems when trying to innovate.  If you haven't read Steven Kerr's article On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B it is well worth taking a few minutes to review it.  It's old, but the message is still fresh, and is something that is consistently overlooked.

I do believe that our tools and processes for innovation are useful. It is important to make the innovation process as consistent with our clients' processes as we reasonably can.  If it's too foreign or scary then innovation will never happen.  But sometimes the fit is just too forced.  In those cases, we may be better served to point out the obvious, and define a reward system that will enable the right work to be done.