Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation

Rob Cross, Jane Linder and Andrew Parker
March 2006

Research Report

they also generate it. new products.4 Not surprisingly. they also struggle with how best to drive passion and enthusiasm into their organizations. Executives have days or weeks to ignite this spark. An important part of their success.” page 9. (See “About the Research. say.) Following a visual tour of how information seeking and energy— 2 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business . for executive commitment and engaged teams. One solution is to focus a network lens on the daily interactions throughout an organization that either energize or drain employees. of course. and even for the kind of nurturing normally associated with parenting. Similarly. In other words. teams and organizations by the way they interact.2 Managing energy involves shaping a complex dynamic with its own internal feedback loops. But an equally critical. not months or years. Earlier research has demonstrated that energy can be assessed through an organizational network lens.5 People are much more likely to seek out information and to learn from energizers than from de-energizers—and all phases of an innovation require new information. and this statement will be borne out. this article seeks to fill that gap. Put in these terms. Most innovative projects not only consume employee energy. energy has to be “kicked up” and “drained off” at different points during a project. if you can’t generate energy for it. one of the building blocks of a high-performance business.Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 Some organizations are able to generate successful product and process innovations over and over again. No matter how good or technically right the idea might be. when the organization launches a search for. perspectives or expertise in order to proceed successfully. stems from the superior management processes and organizational structures they use to bring new ideas to market.3 Attempts to control energy can backfire—witness the kickoff meeting that leaves employees feeling skeptical and deflated rather than committed. for relentless effort to overcome obstacles. Experts in this arena describe the need for intense passion. the organization must dampen or redirect the head of steam that has been built up so it can turn its attention elsewhere. Based on network research conducted with 15 organizations. “Nothing innovative happens without someone getting fired up about an idea and then getting others enthused about and supportive of the plan. To make it even more challenging.1 Yet while executives recognize energy as intricately intertwined with innovation. They develop a distinctive capability in this area. and often overlooked. de-energizing behavior saps an organization’s innovative potential quickly and effectively. it has to coalesce enough energy in that initiative to break the pull of other pressing demands. as well as Accenture’s ongoing research into the characteristics of organizations that achieve high performance. But that’s not the case.” Pick up any article or book about innovation. As the head of R&D at a consumer products organization explained to us. nothing of substance is going to happen.6 While these earlier findings showed executives how to identify energizers and de-energizers. success factor distinguishes innovative organizations: energy. managing energy can sound impossible. at the end of an initiative. Network analyses reveal that people energize and “de-energize” their colleagues. they didn’t provide specific insights into managing energy to stimulate learning and innovation.

the role of energy was even more pronounced. and their ability to recognize and implement key technical innovations was critical to the success of those initiatives. Further. These employees played key roles in strategic initiatives such as merger integration and supply chain management. We then offer more general guidelines for companies that want to ensure that their enthusiasm doesn’t flag when attempting to meet the challenge of innovative change. Energizing interactions stimulate insights by enabling people with different perspectives to collaborate effectively. Exhibit 2 shows the extent to which the architects seek information from the network’s de-energizers. and the “energy network” was always the most important predictor of informationseeking relationships (it was four to six times more important than traditional predictors of information-seeking relationships). we explain how executives should manage energy differently at different phases of the innovation process. most of the ties that remain reflect formal reporting relationships from which the information seeker could not escape. Enthusiasm and energy help overcome the natural disconnects between people from different backgrounds and with different areas of expertise.Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 two prerequisites of innovation—are connected. In fact. An arrow going from one architect to another reveals that the first architect is seeking information from the second in order to get In all 15 organizations. energizing relationships were the only consistent determinant of who learned and obtained information from whom. These Exhibit 1: Network connections in a major utility 3 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business . Visualizing energy flow— and dissipation Exhibit 1 below shows a pattern typical of all 15 organizations in this research. The dropoff in connectivity graphically illustrates the impact: people avoid such individuals. Exhibit 1 shows the pattern of connections within a group of technical architects at one of the largest utilities in the United States. his or her work done. when only informational relationships deemed “very effective” were analyzed.

Although innovative initiatives often move in a non-linear path. A manager who demands action steps and deadlines during a brainstorming meeting will strangle creativity immediately. this innovator received the company’s usual response to new ideas: “Let’s give this a try. development and commercialization. Consider the market researcher at Herman Miller who believed that customers wanted more than high-end office furniture from the company. When customers proved enthusiastic. It is up to leaders to help employees reach the right interpretation in order to unleash the energy effect.” 4 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business . People need some latitude and encouragement from management in order to pursue budding ideas in an easy.” page 11. selection. Managing energy in four key stages of innovation Each part of the innovation process calls for a different style of energy management. which had never been a customer-facing activity. Innovations often emerge on the fringe of people’s jobs and roles. but unrealistic expectations sap motivation. innovations are especially fragile. he had to enlist the assistance of a well-placed colleague in sales to get the opportunity to test his ideas on actual customers. he was convinced they wanted services that would help them make their workplaces more effective. confidence and openness —that enables innovative possibilities to emerge and develop. Instead of being asked to prepare a formal business case. where they are invisible to the rest of the organization.) Ideation: protect the hunters. a pause for a blue-sky session in the middle of an aggressive rollout will also kill momentum. The Herman Miller culture played a positive role in the story. the innovator came out from under the radar to head up an official and profitable service line for the company.Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 Exhibit 2: Network connections of de-energizers collaborations create the space—the mutual respect. Further along in the process. Since his role in the company was research on workplace design. most include four very different types of activities: ideation. They also have to shape perceptions. At this stage. (See “Energy sources and sinks in the innovation process. low-risk way. Leaders have to understand how and when to tap different energizing mechanisms. as seemingly similar approaches to an initiative can be either energizing or de-energizing—lofty targets are inspiring. de-energizing behaviors easily stamp them out.

in most successful cases. When Bill Gore. when leaders recognized its importance. While the energy dynamic in the ideation process requires openness. the company decided not to commercialize his product. In his experience. not just those that have won the heart of a heavyweight sponsor. so most have a stage-gate or prioritization process to assess proposals and choose among them. developed a variant of Teflon that could be used to insulate electrical wires. Innovation’s aim is to drive profitable growth. Then we select one to pursue. Its aim is less to build momentum than to avoid destroying it. a chemist at DuPont. grant him an unencumbered license to the technology. business models and so on—is equally challenging. Ideas whose time has come will garner enough energy and momentum to carry them through the challenges they will face. they are doing this with people who have expertise different from their own. Energizing interactions stimulate insights by enabling people with different perspectives to collaborate effectively. Management did. A more energy-aware approach retains ideas for possible future use or grants a full license to a rejected idea to the individual who contributed it. It also lets him work with individual scientists to review their overall impact and improve the quality of their ideas.” He sends an engineer and a marketer into the field to “live” with customers and customers’ customers for six months. don’t just take the negative path of killing struggling projects quickly and completely (standard “best practice” advice for managing R&D portfolios). Selection processes that publicly brand initiatives as failures make it hard to revisit them when conditions change. technological possibilities and competitors’ activities to identify promising new product ideas. Nevertheless. until recently Microsoft put little priority on the search function as an important Web-browser capability. What happens to the people who sent in all those other ideas? They never send us another one. Innovators test the waters to understand whether their organization and their customers are open to the new idea. Selection: be positive. it’s a matter of timing. The complexity and depth of expertise required for even the most common innovations make it all but impossible for the lone inventor to exist anymore.Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 In the ideation stage. In many ways. choose projects based on objective merit. Bill’s son Bob adapted the technology to open up a whole new market for WL Gore and Associates: they introduced Goretex. For example. Effective managers clear away obstacles to exploration by erecting protective umbrellas over their idea hunters. At the same time. employees are framing possibilities. Enthusiasm and energy help bridge the natural disconnects between people with different backgrounds and expertise. One research and development executive asks his scientists to log all of their ideas. they discovered several cutting-edge initiatives that were quietly making their way forward. 5 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business . The transition from generating ideas to selecting from them involves more than just chunking out investment proposals or submitting them to the capital committee. A positive focus creates an energizing market for attention and funding among innovators without undermining their initiative. however. This enables him to keep an eye on the selection process to make sure it remains fair and open. One chief technology officer directs his people to go “hunting in pairs. and communicate the decisions explicitly so the rationale is clear. Companies can’t devote resources to every idea. However. The search for good opportunities to create value in other innovation arenas—branding. while the many whose projects are given no resources feel discouraged. it is possible—and necessary—to choose ideas to pursue in ways that do not kill organizational energy. Companies often conduct intensive and time-consuming investigations of customers’ needs. “We solicit hundreds of good ideas from our very bright people each year. diversity and creativity. Ideation isn’t limited to internal whiteboard sessions. treat the innovation process as iterative rather than linear. Today’s bad idea can become tomorrow’s breakthrough. projects that are slower to show their merit can proceed at their own pace. In the typical company. Energizing leaders have found it is better to double the bet on innovations that are paying off: employees who want to make a contribution will naturally be attracted to the successful initiatives. it takes this marriage of perspective and this length of time to see what is missing rather than what is there. the few whose ideas are funded are tremendously energized.” Three ways to save energy through the selection process are critical. Second. First. financial structure. not to maximize energy. the selection process rests on transparency and fairness. As the executive of a telecommunications company explained. Third. not political strength. Some years later. administrative processes.

” Effective development leaders help the team interpret these criticisms and challenges constructively. An innovation’s development process. with its prototypes and experiments. Handoffs are dangerous. it showed that aiming for anything short of two years would be foolhardy. are two entirely different things. Although de-energizers “cost sunshine” in the words of one executive. He recognized. When a diligent staffer presented his task-by-task project plan. especially when done in stimulating collaboration with avid clients. that’s when you want people to ask all the hard questions. cultivating an upbeat attitude to take the realists’ views into account. He laid out a plan that allowed nine months from start to finish.” explaining. including outside vendors. however. One aggressive government executive led a team hell-bent on implementing electronic tax filing. Both of its previous attempts had stumbled when program managers rotated in—and then out again—as they found little interest in the initiative from the top. The organization’s everyday processes must shift to make room for the innovation and get re-established again without losing too much productivity. I’ve been in my job for four years now because people need leadership continuity to implement radical new processes. a credit card company with a telemarketing group known for successful cross-selling decided to expand its offerings to include insurance. Leaders help teams get through the hard work of changing their practices by keeping them focused on the promise of results. hard march through implementation to capture value can be the most demanding process of all from an energy perspective. no one wants to work on someone else’s risky idea. As one food company executive counsels. The executive thanked him for his contribution. “Getting things done” and “making things work” energize practical people. off to a new location for the duration of the project and paid personal attention to the “human side.Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 The transition from selection to development is like a drag race.7 At this stage.” The transition from development to commercialization can be particularly rocky. organizational roles and priorities can make this difficult as product developers are asked to share responsibility for their “baby” with 6 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business . But when you move it to engineering. But if the organizational commitment. While it’s important to keep the original team involved. energy quickly evaporates. that ordinary project management would not carry the day. the company had to both establish a new group of licensed sales agents and train existing sales representatives to transfer the right customers to them. sense of purpose or focus wavers. One government executive described the importance of stability amid change this way. suppliers and colleagues. Finally. Development engineers are renowned for endlessly tweaking new products to perfection while the commercialization team tries to get a grip on features they can sell. “It takes a lot of management and minding to develop a real team and an ethos that you will do whatever it takes to meet your promises. Some parts of the innovation process are destroyed by de-energizing behavior and others only succeed if leaders create room for de-energizers to be heard. One financial services company executive admitted the organization was on its third try at a developing a major new information technology capability—this time under the direct oversight of the company’s most senior leaders to provide the level of focus a profound change requires. and reiterated the due date. For example. It can temper boundless enthusiasm with realism. You have to build up speed quickly from a standing start—overcoming the lull that comes as a natural byproduct of waiting for approval Initiatives that have earned the organization’s imprimatur now need energizing leaders who can both describe the vision and organize the charge while keeping key supporters engaged and enthusiastic Development: listen to the deenergizers. Regulations prohibit unlicensed agents from selling insurance. teams build momentum. however. “Don’t ever let de-energizers work on the early stages of an innovative project. To begin selling insurance to its existing customers. Commercialization: stay the course. He took his whole team. however. innovation’s oft-forgotten long. You won’t find that in any textbook.” His highly energized team delivered on time. inattentive or overly attentive management and unrealistic deadlines can ensure that promising projects churn away unproductively. “Normally our senior executives change roles every 18 months to two years. but also keep them in perspective. make sure a group has explored a new idea from all the angles and ensure that all opinions are heard and considered. Expending effort on an initiative and making progress. De-energizing factors like continually changing leadership. involves yet another set of energy ebbs and flows. organizations become invested and initiatives become more difficult to stop. de-energizing can play a productive role in innovation. tore up the detailed plan. unlike in ideation or selection.

From an energy perspective. reliable processing infrastructure. it is also critical to consider the problem more holistically. we found that three values must be nurtured to build an energy-friendly culture: playfulness. New employees and “old timers” can find themselves at the edges—the former because they don’t know people yet. Effective leaders manage these transitions without a loss of energy by making the shift in roles and responsibilities crisp and clear. innovative offers in the credit card industry. wanted to improve the company’s dismal average response time—66 minutes —to customer network alerts. The company is laying plans to analyze its development projects’ energy networks in order to improve even further its ability to manage cross-boundary teams. Drew Phelps. Leaders in our research consistently used organizational network analysis to make energizing interactions visible.Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 marketers or are moved onto new projects altogether. As it has matured. they themselves must be coached so that energy at the top doesn’t peter out. For example. In others it helps to protect against the void a departure or promotion of an energizer would have on their entire group. but keeping the “out of phase” participants engaged. For example. the latter because they are disengaging as they approach retirement. these views identify those who are central in the energy network. A network lens can also help identify where energy is flagging and reveal hidden obstacles to innovation. it can’t be assumed that managers will understand how to create more energy: 7 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business . If response time is between five and 15 minutes—Netivity’s internal goal—the engineer receives one bottle of beer. a customer delivery manager with network services company Netivity Solutions. A network analysis can find trouble spots with old and new employees and find ways to plug them in. This is an energizing challenge of the first order that demands that senior leadership take personal responsibility for creating the organizational will to change. the reward is “you’ll get nothing and like it. these analyses help leaders identify and engage peripheral players. and they’re willing to offer creative solutions themselves. In the midst of its rapid growth. It must be regularly measured and monitored—who has it? Where is it lacking? What can be done to bring in peripheral players? Finally. Teradyne does this well.9 In interviews. Cultural values have a powerful and pervasive effect on energy. First and foremost. Energizing managers create a lighthearted environment that encourages others to bring offbeat ideas into |conversations productively. By highlighting people in a network who are engaged on key projects. he or she earns a six-pack of beer. Everyday energy As important as it is to manage energy differently in the four stages of innovation. a network view helps leaders to re-create energy elsewhere by defining energizing behaviors and employing evaluation and reward processes to stimulate replication of the those behaviors. and putting marketing and sales people on the innovation team from the beginning. at any given time one large. keeping original innovators involved through the first customer sale. bureaucracy and tidy processes were distinctly de-energizing. however. They are especially adept at using humor to bypass tense or difficult situations as they stimulate debate. He created a game to light a fire under the company’s engineers. Building the culture Energizing interactions do not occur in a vacuum. Second. For a response between 15 and 30 minutes. In some cases. For example. Now.” and anything after 30 minutes means the engineer buys Phelps a six-pack. After instituting the game in September 2005. the company needs to rally its energy to create those tidy processes it once eschewed. trust and realistic optimism. Recognizing that poor relationships undermine promising science. They don’t balk at “stupid” questions. partnership-oriented pharmaceutical company has 300 to 400 active partnerships with biotech companies of various sizes. a dynamic financial services company built its reputation with fast-paced. leaders can determine which efforts have energy behind them and which do not. average response time dipped to less than five minutes and has stayed there. the company’s alliance management center uses a wide variety of diagnostics and training—including an annual “relationship physical”—to help its drug development teams work effectively with outsiders. If the engineer on duty responds to an alert in less than five minutes. Taking the pulse The first step toward managing energy is measuring it. the company has shifted toward becoming a fullservice institution based on a solid. the most challenging transitions of all are those that involve shifting strategic focus.

In addition to improving energy at key points in the network. Managers must learn to foster and harness the energy that is needed at every stage of the innovation process. methods of communicating to plant workers and external partnerships—tracking down actual rocket scientists to develop the mathematical basis for their solution. seemingly invisible interactions that build or drain energy deep within an organization. UPS executives only half-jokingly call themselves a “bunch of boy scouts. executives must help individual energizers recharge when their own store of enthusiasm runs low. When this important substrate becomes visible. Phrase your disagreement in a way that keeps attention on objectives and does not appear as an attack on the person with the idea. This is a problem because formal and informal leaders are a “high leverage point” of energy: Their behaviors are magnified and have a bigger impact than those of others. 8 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business . optimism. In contrast. as UPS has done. Let them develop and then look for ways to build on and improve them. where de-energizers see roadblocks at every turn. Playfulness and trust benefit from the third cultural value that is important to energy. When an energizer stalls. Coaching the leaders Sometimes executives and people at the center of a network find themselves on the wrong side of the energy equation. Whether you’re the coach or the coached. Start by assuming the idea can be successful. when people learn they can’t count on others to do what they say they are going to do. the vice president of operations of a global consumer products company—a recognized leader in efficient manufacturing—challenged his organization to boost manufacturing reliability from about 70 percent to 85 percent. in which hidden agendas or political posturing keep people from being able to rely on others. Offer genuine compliments freely. “When I’m in the cafeteria. they broke new ground in developing new equipment reliability concepts. energizers naturally see realistic possibilities. Encouraging this mindset gives innovation a fighting chance. energy drains out of the organization. Despite the daunting nature of the challenge. Disagree with things. This is the easiest behavior to change. Be part of the solution. They tend to be either strong energizers or strong de-energizers. trust. People will feel more connected with you after even this most formal of personal touches. two engineers in one busi- ness led the organization to a wholly new approach to managing production. the engineers persevered and ultimately saving the company millions of dollars. They tell me. For example. satisfied and engaged leader of an innovative initiative: Bite your tongue. I make a point of asking people what we could do better. executives can take specific actions to move their organizations toward high performance by driving innovation while at the same time contributing to the well-being and growth of employees.” Honesty. the momentum that naturally builds around the energizer also evaporates. For the next eight years. but these values are reinforced daily in thousands of interactions. Never identify a problem. not people. Executives should know who these influential players are and take deliberate measures to recharge their batteries when necessary. Start with “the answer is yes. loyalty and trustworthiness are not on anyone’s performance metrics.” When an entire company internalizes these cultural values. risks and costs than the upside opportunity in a new idea. a level that conventional wisdom labeled unachievable. Shake hands. six steps can help an executive change from a strong de-energizer into a productive. Try not to criticize ideas immediately. they become energized by their commitments. Among other areas. but research shows that it makes a big difference. Energizing contexts are honest and transparent in contrast to de-energizing ones. It’s often easier to see the obstacles. and I listen. Integrity between words and action is also critical. his own performance is not the only thing that suffers. But an individual’s epiphany won’t amount to anything unless others are motivated to believe in it and act on it. CEO Mike Eskew says. Be ready to lead the work to develop the alternative. When we mapped trust networks on a subset of the organizations in this research. unless you can also suggest a solution or at least a way to approach finding a solution.Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 The second cultural necessity. However. we found that they corresponded almost perfectly with the energy networks. A network perspective can make tractable the myriad. Look for deserving behavior to compliment—which means you’ll have to pay attention to people to spot the behavior. Good ideas are abundant in organizations. what’s the question?” Maintain a challenging but open stance to new ideas. Anyone can see through patronizing or disingenuous praise. especially in public. For example. forms the foundation upon which energizing interactions can unfold. then explore what it might require to actually make it so.

how does it typically affect your energy level?” Respondents could indicate a value from 1 to 5.15 This approach confirmed a consistent link between energy and information flow in a large number of organizations. we began to focus on the role of energizing interactions in innovation. 9 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business .13 As additional evidence emerged showing that energy and information seeking were closely intertwined.Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 About the research Research on networks in organizations has tended to emphasize instrumental ties. we were able to statistically determine whether energy was a critical determinant of key informational relationships. This phase provided us with rich insights into the impact of energy on innovation and on the levers that leaders can pull to influence energy in their organizations. where 1 indicated “strongly de-energizing” and 5 “strongly energizing. Using a form of regression known as quadratic assignment procedure (to account for non-independence of network data).12 We became intrigued with energy networks as a result of research showing links between a person’s centrality in a network of energizing interactions and his or her performance: in this work. such as those that exist because people engaged in a task need to obtain information or resources. we conducted 26 interviews primarily with people considered high energizers by their peers (as revealed by the network analyses). and trust— no research that we are aware of has considered the impact of deeper relational dimensions on outcomes like profitable growth and the innovation that fuels it. results from this phase of the research helped us to understand patterns of energizing interactions and some key influencers of energy in organizations. Further.11 While some researchers have explored expressive or emotional aspects of relationships—such as friendship. They also helped us to establish an empirical link between information flow and energy in networks. we employed organizational network analysis in 15 organizations to assess both information and energy networks.” The results of this analysis allowed us to visualize and describe consistent features of energizing and de-energizing interactions in organizations. personal or career support. When you interact with each person below. First. employees perceived as energizing were consistently ranked as higher performers in annual HR evaluations. We then conducted 50 additional interviews with executives involved directly in innovation. Interactions with some people can leave you feeling drained while others can leave you feeling enthused about possibilities. To visualize energy networks we asked the survey question: “People can affect the energy and enthusiasm we have at work in various ways.14 We devised a mixed method approach to further understand both the relationship between energy and information flow in networks and the actions executives can take to support energy where it has an impact on innovation. In the second phase of the research.

1 18.3 4. In the 15 organizations.9 1.4 12. The one disconcerting exception: the higher someone’s place in the formal hierarchy. when planned innovations or strategic execution requires collaboration across organizational boundaries.4 18.2 Average number of de-energizing relationships 0. there is an increase in both energizing and de-energizing ties. arranged from least to most energizing.9 3. people had an average of 12 energizing ties but only three de-energizing ones.8 2. small disagreements over process and approach can de-energize people much more than they would in organizations where employees are blasé about their jobs.6 5. Leaders as a group tended to be strong energizers or de-energizers.8 0.4 7. the less likely he or she was to be energizing.6 1.7 6.7 1.Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 About the research (continued) Energy networks in the 15 organizations we examined tended to cluster along organizational lines. people in the same function and location were more likely to have energizing interactions than those who worked virtually. Number of organizations in which relationships had a positive impact on energy Being in the same department or function Being in the same physical location Being the same gender Being higher in the hierarchy Having longer tenure 0 out of 15 2 out of 15 0 out of 15 7 out of 15 2 out of 15 0 out of 15 9 out of 15 0 out of 15 12 out of 15 Number of organizations in which relationships had a negative impact on energy 0 out of 15 Government Agency Utility Financial Services Consumer Products Financial Services Petrochemical Manufacturing Global Bio-Tech Petrochemical Government Agency Strategy Consultancy Engineering Firm Software Development Strategy Consultancy Professional Services 96 58 153 60 68 31 70 77 102 59 80 152 80 125 145 The good news is that energizing relationships are much more prevalent than de-energizing connections.6 4.2 6. For example.0 7.3 0.3 10 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business . An individual’s level in the organizational hierarchy also had a fairly consistent (influence on energizing interactions. The table below. In organizations where people invest their passion.0 1.7 8.5 13.2 14. few were in the middle. Organization Number of people in network Average number of energizing relationships 4. leaders need to take deliberate steps to prevent a natural energy fault-line from invisibly undermining an initiative. shows that it’s not only positive energy that increases.6 29.6 24. When people really care about what they are doing.7 1.1 6.8 6.8 7.16 Clearly.2 1.

Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 Energy sources and sinks in the innovation process These management actions represent the most prominent responses distilled from a content analysis of 76 interviews with executives about innovation. Set unrealistic expectations. big and small. Continuously trawl for opportunities. can provide value for those who use them. Naming a threat and the imminent consequences galvanizes people to action. if implemented. If performance seems good. Focus only on the short-term. Innovation process Innovation context: Establishing an energizing environment provides fertile ground for many types of innovations —from new products and services to internal breakthroughs. Cultivate pessimism. Allow political posturing and personal agendas to determine decisions. Dismiss contributions. Seeing the upside attracts others to new possibilities. simple vision. Establish goals that the team knows they cannot reach. Listen. eliminate investments in new ideas and proposals. Cultivate optimism. to improve the way things work. Substitute measures for a sense of purpose. Maintain closed minds. Listening to others encourages and acknowledges them. Practice constructive dissatisfaction. Give individuals and teams latitude to propose ideas that fall outside current organizational bounds. Tolerate distrust. Forget long-term visions and far-reaching goals. solicit participation from people with many different skills and backgrounds. ideas or solutions that. Leverage diverse perspectives. Collaborate. Articulate a clear. Fail to follow-up. Actively deny the possibility that new ideas could be positive for the organization. 11 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business . it rallies people quickly and easily. Identify a threat or crisis. Ask employees for ideas but do not act on any that they submit. Make sure every new idea or proposal is scrutinized carefully for risk whenever it is discussed. Striving to accomplish difficult goals bonds people and motivates their efforts. When the vision is clear and simple. Rest on laurels. Create opportunities to break new ground. People get energy from working together face-to-face with other team-oriented individuals. Ideation: Creating new concepts. In the early stages of thinking. What magnifies energy? What drains energy? Set challenging targets. Label many improvements “incremental” so people see them as almost worthless.

Rank proposals using methodologies that focus inordinately on risks. Select projects politically. Recognize the value of making the machinery work and the ordinary heroes who do so daily. Force innovation teams to work through unwieldy and bureaucratic internal systems to launch new practices. deadlines and humor. hard hours with tactics that make work fun. What magnifies energy? What drains energy? Validate “do-ability. Involve those who are close to the situation in decisions about problems are most important to solve. Respect the details. but do not actually provide it. Set priorities for internal operational groups that punish them for assisting in the change associated with an innovation. Prohibit or endlessly delay the development team’s ability to secure key resources such as outside expertise. Development: Turning a promising concept or idea into a working model to prove its merit. get early feedback. Halt all innovative efforts that fail to meet the corporate investment hurdle rates in the first year. Use downside-oriented evaluation tools.” Innovations are uncertain. Make false promises. but proofs of concept. Tell scientists and engineers what to do in explicit detail. Station guard dogs in front of the selection process. Enable any single member of the decision team to block an idea for his or her own reasons. post a chart on the wall that shows progress toward the goal. Reminding participants about the original purpose helps make the hard work meaningful. Set diverging priorities. Count results. License out rejected ideas. Use games. then follow up frequently to make sure they accomplished their designated tasks. experiments and experiences of others can convince people they are not wasting their time. Most new things don’t work the first time. Micromanage developers. Instead of asking “Can this work?” ask the team “How can this work?” Use the network. Make internal systems inflexible.Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 Energy sources and sinks in the innovation process (continued) Innovation process Selection: Choosing the innovative initiatives to pursue from among the many possibilities. Ring a bell for every new purchase order. Adopt the discipline of offering rejected ideas to others. Reach broadly into the informal network to find expertise. Ensure that the individual who collects innovation proposals sets up irrelevant administrative barriers. Demand instant profitability. Put the decision close to the problem. 12 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business . senior management support. head off problems and build support. Block access to critical resources. Commercialization: Scaling up the organizational machinery to implement the new idea and harvest the benefits. Rank proposals by the political clout of the individuals backing them. Revisit the vision. Describe the end-state and let team members figure out how to reach it. Cultivate a problem-solving attitude. contact with customers or internal cooperation. Take the edge off long. Commit resources and cooperation to the development team. Focus on outcomes.

He can be reached at anparker@stanford. Andrew Parker is a doctoral candidate at Stanford University in Stanford.edu.55 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. She can be reached at jane. 13 | Accenture Institute for High Performance Business . About Accenture Accenture is a global management consulting. California. Virginia. technology and outsourcing experience to conduct innovative research and analysis into how organizations become and remain high-performance businesses. With more than 126. Jane C.edu. technology services and outsourcing company.000 people in 48 countries. Massachusetts.com. Its home page is www. the company generated net revenues of US$15. About the Accenture Institute for High Performance Business The Accenture Institute for High Performance Business creates strategic insights into key management issues through original research and analysis. Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. 2005. Accenture can mobilize the right people. Committed to delivering innovation.Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation · March 2006 About the authors Rob Cross is an associate professor at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Business in Charlottesville. skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance.linder@accenture. With deep industry and business process expertise. He can be reached at robcross@virginia. Linder is an executive research fellow at the Accenture Institute for High Performance Business in Wellesley.c. Its management researchers combine world-class reputations with Accenture’s extensive consulting. broad global resources and a proven track record.accenture. 31.com.

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