My Corporate Culture Pros partner Gerry recently lead a European Summit on innovation. It was an SRO (standing room only) event because quite frankly, who wouldn’t want to learn about how to foster successful innovation. Attendees ranged from the Fortune 500 corporate types to the small entrepreneurs just starting up and they all shared a common problem: The needed innovation to grow their businesses. Although they were all well versed in practices of  operational efficiency that alone is not going to cut it when it comes to succeeding in a crowded future marketplace.

The number one challenge among these business professionals? Plenty of ideas but no way to get them done.

Which brings us to the million dollar question: Why not?


Maybe you think getting your sales force fired up with a positive motivational speech is the answer. Maybe it’s a shiny new acquisition. Maybe you expand into a new market. Perhaps all it takes is to reboot your product, call is “2.0” and put it out into the world. Actually, those are all viable plans but making those plans WORK is where the real “innovations” comes into the picture. 90% of innovation is not at the iPod scale, it’s executing on clear goals …. not 20 or 30% of goals, but every person executing closer to 100% of their goals. We have yet to see a business that does that in any given year.

Most efforts to grow your business aren’t stopped by ideas, technology, or strategy. Growth is killed in execution. People don’t deal with their “head trash” – thoughts (mindsets and limiting beliefs) that create unwillingness to change even when it is the best thing to do. This strikes at the heart of why your corporate culture might need an overhaul.

When you look for head trash among  your staff you find it everywhere:

  • “This wasn’t my idea”
  • “Don’t distract me with the facts”
  • “It has never been done this way”
  • “It’s working well enough”
  • “I already know that”
  • “I’m too busy”
  • “What’s in it for me?”

A university leader from the European Summit related his story. “The only way we will be able to do research in our future is to secure investments from the customers who can commercialize it. Since the government is withdrawing most of its funding for research, we have motivation to change! But trying to build an alliance between our organization and our customers is very difficult. We face huge resistance. Even though we know it’s what we need to do, we’re afraid of change.”


What to do about it in your world?  Learn from failure. Ah, yes that old canard. We’ve heard it dozens of times but have you really ever put it into practice? Ask your team for a detailed list of the mindsets and reasons for the last thing that your company failed at. Don’t stop at the surface answers – drill deep. What you might discover is that the failure could be traced back to your staff’s head trash piling up and not your budget. Don’t stop a “crazy notion” from becoming your next “million dollar idea.” Dump the head trash today!

If you’ve got a perfect example of how head trash is standing in the way of your company’s success, let us know.

Lisa Jackson and her partner Gerry Schmidt are corporate culture experts. Visit them on the web at or follow them on Twitter at


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