New ideas and new approaches are the lifeblood of business, but we bury them under process. We say we want innovation but at the same time are frightened of it. The path to innovation is shorter and safer when you use social media.

Innovation is another of those big words bandied around in organizations as if everyone agrees what it means and is comfortable with doing it. As ever, this is far from the case. The forces that make innovating difficult are considerable. The familiarity and comfort with current approaches, the “not invented here” challenge, and the fact that in order to agree to innovate you have to agree that there is something wrong with what you are currently doing. Innovation comes out of dissatisfaction with the status quo. If everything was perfect there would be no need for innovation.

But most organizations discourage dissent. You are not allowed to say that there is something wrong. Seeing things as being wrong marks you out as a troublemaker. Aren’t those trying to change things inevitably going to be seen as causing trouble, even if they are trying to make things better? Having the courage to “tell it like it is” is the first step to being recognized as an innovator. You can see where things are wrong and can see a clear path to what will be right. Building consensus behind your vision and engaging others in bringing it about are the key skills of innovators.

Sadly innovation isn’t so easy in most large organizations. ...

Get Organizations Don't Tweet, People Do: A Manager's Guide to the Social Web now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.