Tuesday, August 9, 2011

From ‘Ego’ to ‘Pride’ – The change in Innovation mindset?

‘Ego’ occupies its place inside every individual from early childhood, be it a self respect or a self esteem, or even arrogance. And as enterprises are made of people, enterprises too have their ego. 

Traditionally ‘Ego’ has been one of the driving forces behind companies doing innovation. I say - one of the factors, because there are many other factors which drive innovation, but here I am trying to explore just the ego angle.

This ‘Ego’ is usually two fold, one in terms of being superior to the competition and second being superior to your own self. Both types are healthy!

Over the time, however the cost of keeping this ‘Ego’ has gone up. It’s neither the individual’s fault nor the enterprise’s – ‘Globalization’ is the culprit, and unfortunately you or your enterprise cannot stop this guy!

So should one forget about the ‘Ego’? Some decided just that, some are ok to pay the cost of it, but some of them decided to reinvent it.

Let’s talk about the people and enterprises that are reinventing it, in other words innovating the innovation itself. What I feel they did is – they (e.g. P&G) worked backwards. Backwards from the final goal of wanting to be innovative. Instead of looking down and cut cost they looked up, they replaced the ‘Ego’ with the ‘Pride’. Even in this lot, not everyone worked backwards, others who saw this work, just followed the trend setters.

With ‘Ego’ being out of sight, these enterprises became far more open, they started collaborating with employees, customers, vendors and even someone completely stranger for their innovation needs. The real test though was if they really can get innovation done this way, it turns out that they did!

Obviously now instead of cost of ‘Ego’, they dealt with cost of ‘Pride’.

They soon realized that they no longer need to increase their innovation budget in direct proportionate to the increased innovation expectations.

The cost of pride turned out to be far less than the cost of ego, in turn resolving their initial challenge around cost.

Additionally, ‘Pride’ felt far more positive a feeling than the ‘Ego’.

Unless you are like Steve Jobs, who would rather keep his ego, albeit for the right reasons, and innovate yourself at the cost and speed you can afford, for rest of us, I feel switch from ‘Ego’ centric innovation to ‘Pride’ centric innovation is on its way to become mainstream.


  1. Interesting article. I'm not sure I see the difference between 'ego' centric innovation and 'pride' centric. A sense of 'pride' only comes from ego, does it not? I think pride and ego are 2 sides of the same coin. True innovation comes from a desire to perform and succeed - everyone wants "their" idea to be the successful one; learning to work in teams is essential of course but not at the expense of individual drive and ego. If the team is homogenous with all members contributing equally you'll never reach a truly innovative solution. Innovation requires disruption and disruption comes from ego.

  2. True, some part of pride could come from ego, but I am arguing that not all your pride need to come from ego. Pride can stand alone on its own & firmly on the values and the experience you deliver. Specifically on the organizational innovation front where making your organization innovative does not necessarily mean you yourself need to be innovative.

  3. I have enjoyed the analysis but I do agree also that Pride and Ego are 2 sides of the same coin,
    what about an altruistic approche ?

  4. Altruistic approach is one of the best, as I see mostly applicable for social innovation, which in turn seem to be the real innovation playground. I wish business embrace it, but if they do, competitiveness will get killed and that is not good for innovation!

  5. Thank you for the very nice discussion!
    There are some thoughts entering while a was reading this interesting article:
    Everbody, I also, has an ego even a baby who wants milk from the mother right now. I see ego as somthing very natural cause it helps us getting things we want for our selves. It isn't a problem if it concerns basic necissities...the problem start when we want much more than that. I see ego as to much self love...and looking after it's self very wel (too well)and using others in your advantage. This is sometimes difficult to see (be aware of).
    The ego is not the problem cause it's natural behaviour, only it can get out of controle. I don't think pride is going to solve the greed problem that is now taking place in the world cause, like some of you already said, it's also an egoistic element. Interesting in this discussion is that you need a sort of drive that makes us move forward. And what could that drive be? Pride? I believe that your ego should be used in a different way (correct way?)by directing the focus (intention) from selfbenefit to benefit of others. Could it be that innovation is about benefitting others (sec), benefitting society and that this needs innovation of our selves to be able to perfom such an act? Social Innovation/ Self innovation? See it this way: How do cells work in our body: One cell takes care of the other and that one takes care of that one. No cell takes care of it's self! When this is working well everything is in balance. Can you think of a situation when cells start becoming egoistic (want more than the rest)and what will happen to to cells and the rest of the body? New insight is needed to first see, be aware (conscious)that we are egoistic and that we want to use the power of our egoisim for the good of society and the people of the world. Collaborate to innovate sounds perfect!
    Koos Ris
    The Netherlands
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