Your company has cancer because your leaders are institutionalized. They were line managers, who became senior managers, then directors and vice presidents. They have lived in the system for ever and know their way around it. They can protect their territories, are part of unspoken treaties and know how to appear busy without being productive. 

In your company, there is a young woman. She started recently and is charged up because she signed herself up for your company’s mission. At first, she spoke in meetings when things didn’t make sense to her logical mind. But she stopped when her senior esteemed colleagues scoffed at her and told her, that she has to take time to understand how ‘things’ worked.

There is a failed entrepreneur in your company who has ideas and the lessons from the outside world about all the things you cannot do as a product company. But, your senior leaders tell him why his ideas will never work here. He is biding his time, and secretly working on a product that will eat your company’s lunch.

You run hackathons, ideathons and other time-wasteathons because you believe that doing something like that will spur innovation. But, what you don’t understand is that these future leaders are giving up on you because for all your noble intentions, you have mouths to feed in your organization, unspoken pacts and treaties you are part of and status quo you have to maintain.

Then, on your drive home, you wonder why your company is not innovating.