#43 from R&D
Innovator Volume 2, Number 6
FORUM – from
Creativity On Turf Battles
I manage a small
team in a large chemical company.
The chief technology officer (CTO), who works in a
different state, visits our division several times a year, always
stressing the need for interdepartmental and interdivisional
division is utterly divided.
Ever since I started working here, most of the research
directors spend an inordinate amount of energy protecting their
own departments—their turf.
To take just one
example, when the CTO visits, he holds a session with all the
directors and a few managers.
At a session I attended, the turf-conscious director of
another department—let's call him Dr. Greengrass—was
discussing a technical hurdle in his work.
Since I had experience with that technology, I suggested a
the session concluded, the CTO and Dr. Greengrass both thanked me
for my suggestion and agreed it was worth pursuing, and that I
should be involved in the implementation.
This would have required only a few days of my time.
Well, the day
after the CTO's visit, Director Greengrass came griping to my
supervisor about butt-in-ski's on the staff, and asked my boss to
keep “his people” (in other words, me) out of Greengrass's
projects. I never
found out if my recommendation was even attempted.
What does this
add up to? A company
that's not taking advantage of its staff's creativity.
I wonder if the CTO has any inkling of the waste in human
But what can I
do? Even though my
supervisor agrees with me, he's unwilling to risk his status by
causing conflict. And
I fear trouble for myself if I try to reach above my boss in the
Have readers of R&D
Innovator faced a
similar problem—and solved it?
I'd like to hear about it.