Blog Post

Controlling Innovation?

Humans have a need for control. Okay, some more than others, but still most people have some level of needing to control the world around them to the extent that they can. Many people in large organizations have risen to executive levels because of their ability to tightly control their environment. Nobody wants to be out of control, so the ability to control must be a good trait, right?

Innovation. Is it controllable? By definition, innovation results in something new that didn't exist before. Innovation is the result of analysis, creativity, and application. While there can be a process that bounds innovation there seems to be an organic element to it that occurs naturally when the conditions are right. If you knew exactly what was to be created before you started, would that be innovative? You may know the goals, or at least the intent, but you probably don't know what the end result will look like at the outset.

I believe that in many cases, a person's need for control is in direct conflict with innovation. You can oversee innovaiton, you can direct it and you can certainly encourage it. But to try to control it is to kill it. Michelangelo was credited with saying that he didn't carve marble into a sculpture, rather he released the sculpture that was trapped within the marble. Does innovation work the same way? Instead of trying to control innovation, focus on creating an environment where innovation can flourish; where it organically occurs. Don't force it, release it - and direct it along its way.

Almost every organization claims that they are focusing on innovation. But clearly, most are falling short. The skills that got them where they are today are different than the skills that will drive them forward with success. There will still be tactical areas within the organization that require control (e.g. compliance, legal, finance, etc), but departments focused on innovation will require a very different culture. And that inevitably will require a new skill set. Do you have the right people on your team to achieve the goals you have set?

Jerry McColgin, Founder and President


When problems are difficult, we work harder.  When problems are impossible, we call Jerry.

Jerry's built a career on his ability to overcome the biggest, hairiest challenges they could throw at him.  Most of it comes naturally, but his B.S. in industrial engineering from Purdue University and MBA from Ashland University have helped him to apply his gifts to business.

Jerry's first successes came during his 14 years working for Whirlpool corporation.  He started on the floor of a manufacturing plant in Clyde, Ohio, and worked his way up to corporate headquarters in Benton Harbor, Michigan.  His most impressive achievement during his stint at Whirlpool was leading a cross-functional global team in the development of refrigerators to be built around the world.  With all odds against them, the project came in under-budget, ahead of schedule, and exceeded all expectations.  In other words: he did good.

During his time at Whirlpool, Jerry realized he could help other companies achieve massive successes using the same techniques and processes he had learned in his work.  That's when he started his first company, McColgin Consulting.  Since then, Jerry has started 3 businesses, founded the Greater Indy Innovation Roundtable and Indiana Innovation Awards and generated tens of millions of dollars of revenue for the dozens of clients for whom he's worked.

Contact Jerry by email or on Linked In.