Jim Carroll:
It should be pretty easy to walk into an organization and do an innovation audit — that is, assess the likelihood that an organization can do remarkably new and innovative things. Here’s what I would look for:

-People laugh at new ideas

-Someone who identifies a problem is shunned
Innovation is the privileged practice of a special group

-The phrase, “you can’t do that because we’ve always done it this way” is used for every new idea

-No one can remember the last time anyone did anything really cool

-People think innovation is about R&D

-People have convinced themselves that competing on price is normal

-The organization is focused more on process than success

-There are lots of baby boomers about, and few people younger than 25

-After any type of surprise — product, market, industry or organizational change — everyone sits back and asks, “wow, where did that come from?”

Innovative companies act differently. In these organizations

-Ideas flow freely throughout the organization
subversion is a virtue

-success and failure are championed

-there are many, many leaders who encourage innovative thinking, rather than managers who run a bureacracy

-there are creative champions throughout the organization — people who thrive on thinking

-about how to do things differently
ideas get approval and endorsement
rather than stating “it can’t be done,” people ask, “how could we do this?”

-people know that in addition to R&D, innovation is also about ideas about to “run the business better, grow the business and transform the business”

-the word “innovation” is found in most job descriptions as a primary area of responsibility, and a percentage of annual renumeration is based upon achievement of explicitly defined innovation goals

The fact is, every organization should be able to develop innovation as a core virtue — if they aren’t, they certainly won’t survive the rapid rate of change that envelopes us today.

More here.