Getting credit

It is amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit – Harry S Truman

Yesterday I discussed the vexed issue of ownership of collaboration. Credit for the successes of collaboration is one other reason people are so keen to own it and also why ownership belongs with the users.

Credit is also a vexed issue for innovation. As Harry Truman notes, giving credit away is often the only way to get something done. Far too many change agents are frustrated that their good ideas are quickly taken for implementation, often without credit or further involvement. Sadly, the great ideas don’t get implemented easily.

Three other challenges come for organisations that run on the concept of credit:

  • Credit debates are rarely factual. Credit is usually a part of a performance management process that is not connected to facts. Debates about credit suggests people are much more concerned with appearances of performance.
  • Credit gets in the way of collaboration. Credit tends to assume there is one creator of every outcome. Collaborative outcomes, like design thinking processes, don’t fit the system
  • Credit is distinct from accountability which is much more important. I would rather know who is taking accountability for delivering something than who would like to plans to claim it.

How can an innovator or change agents deal with issues of credit?

  1. Don’t Play the Game:  There is nothing to gain and a lot to lose playing along, keeping ideas secret and trying to hog or claim credit.
  2. Work Aloud: working aloud enables others to understand what you have been involved in and reduces the risk others misjudge your involvement later.  Working aloud engages stakeholders progressively. Working aloud reinforces accountabilities, because it enables others to know who to follow up.
  3. Move on & Work with Collaborators: The advantage of being oriented to innovation is you know you have more ideas and opportunities ahead of you. Many of those clamouring to gain credit know that they don’t have the luxury. Often they will learn their lesson when they need help on the next round.
  4. Give Credit Where it is Due: Innovation processes can be convoluted with lots of participants inputs, reuse of ideas and evolution to a successful implementation. Recognition at the end is hard.  Make sure you recognise others along the way. You will discover building a fact based culture of recognition will flow back in appropriate recognition of your role.
  5. Take Accountability for the Innovation System: Individual ideas matter less in an organisation. What matters more is to have a functioning system of innovation, a consistent process that delivers a cadence of innovations into the market. Innovators and change agents should be build a system that lets everyone in on innovation

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