Can you imagine Stephen Hawking working for a typical boss who demands that he submit daily status reports? Or what about Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton having to get their time cards stamped? How about Mozart, Marie Curie and Leonardo da Vinci taking notes at a company conference?
If you’re struggling to picture the great innovators of the past succeeding within the confines of today’s workplace, how can we expect the modern employee to accomplish any innovative work?
The modern workplace is a challenging environment for innovation because it’s overseen by managers whose training and experience go against the forces required for innovation.
Even though we know that no human has the ability to predict the future, we seem to forget this when presenting a new idea to our boss. We tend to assume that our managers possess some kind of a superior standpoint on our great ideas, perhaps because they have more experience in and knowledge of the industry.
However, it is exactly this knowledge and experience that causes the manager to work against innovation. When you possess a high level of confidence and experience, you are more resistant to innovation because you have the most to lose. Just imagine being a manager with a wealth of knowledge about a particular industry; now imagine a single innovation making that industry entirely obsolete!
So if your manager doesn’t like your idea, don’t despair – there is a long line of prolific figures throughout history who have made judgmental errors when it comes to groundbreaking innovations.
Take nineteenth-century physicist Lord Kelvin, for example. He claimed that any machine heavier than air would never be able to fly.
Or did you know that managers working with propeller-aircraft were the last people to start using jet engines, and that telegraph company managers were the last to use the telephone?
Managers have failed to see the value of many great inventions in the past, so take a leaf out of Hawking’s or Einstein’s book and keep on innovating.