Rosabeth Moss Kanter: "Rules for Stifling Innovation"

July 10, 2002 10:34 AM

  1. Regard any new idea with suspicion - because it's new, and because it's from below.
  2. Insist that people who need your approval to act first go through several other layers of management to get their signatures.
  3. Ask departments or individuals to challenge or criticise each other's proposals. (That saves you the trouble of deciding - you just pick the survivor.)
  4. Express your criticisms freely, and withhold your praise. (That keeps people on their toes.) Let them know they can be fired at any time.
  5. Treat identification of problems as signs of failure, to discourage people from letting you know when something in their area isn't working.
  6. Control everything, carefully. Make sure that people count everything that can be counted, frequently.
  7. Make decisions to reorganize or change policies in secret, and spring them on people unexpectedly. (That also keeps people on their toes.)
  8. Make sure that requests for information are fully justified, and make sure that it is not given out to managers freely. (You don't want data to fall int o the wrong hands.)
  9. Assign to lower-level managers, in the name of delegation and participation, responsibility for figuring out how to cut back, lay off, move people aroun d, or otherwise implement threatening decisions that you have made. And get them to do it quickly.
  10. And above all, never forget that you, the higher-ups, already know everything important about this business.

From The Change Masters: Corporate Entrepreneurs at Work (US edition, Amazon .com).
UK Edition available from

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