Factor 3: Tolerance for Mavericks

This factor measures management’s tolerance of those in the organization who are regarded as mavericks.

Extremes measured in the Calibration

Management has a high tolerance for innovative mavericks


Management has a low tolerance for innovative mavericks

Overview to restructuring initiatives

A maverick is defined as an independent individual who refuses to conform to his group. Tolerance of mavericks is an underlying attribute of innovation. Rightly or wrongly, companies which have mavericks on their staff are often identified as innovative companies, even for this reason alone. Often the C.E.O. is him/herself a maverick. Perhaps the company got it’s start by having a team of mavericks. The old idea was to hide mavericks as they might embarrass the company in public or make employees uncomfortable. The situation is different today and mavericks are actively sought after and welcomed by many companies.

Possible Initiatives to Modify and Improve the Culture for Innovation

Develop a tolerance for new ideas from both mavericks and others with new ideas

Any corporation wishing to improve its innovativeness must establish a culture of openness to new ideas and not a culture which stultifies the sometimes crazy but eventually great ideas put forth by mavericks and others. The trick for many companies, as they increase in size, is to maintain the innovative culture that was present at the beginning of their successful growth. Tolerating mavericks, and even more so, encouraging mavericks or people who could even be called zealots about new ideas, is one of the keys to fostering innovation. Keeping the ‘suits’ away from the creative side of the business is another way of saying let’s not always stick to the corporate rules.

Support spin-offs that provide opportunities for mavericks

Providing support for a spin-off which has conspicuously involved one or more mavericks might provide a signal to other personnel that being a maverick is a good thing and that the corporation is prepared to reward this mind set. The corporation can provide financial and managerial backing to the new venture and staff it with known mavericks. Typically a spin-off such as this is done when the new venture does not fall in the main realm of current corporate interests or becomes less a strategic a fit over time.

Modify hiring policies to open the way to new ideas by hiring ’different’ people

Hiring policies, procedure, and practices may have become moribund over time and need change. Examine the hiring process to make sure that those doing the interviews are not just attempting to clone themselves but are reaching out to hire people with different backgrounds and hopefully with different and ultimately rewarding innovative ideas. Rotate personnel doing the screening and interviewing.

Spin-ins represent opportunities for bringing in fresh ideas

A spin-in is an integration within the corporation of a previously external start-up operation/business and is often found where the start-up may have received financial or other support from the parent-to-be. A spin-in often results from a situation where an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team has been hired to manage the venture temporarily until past the start-up, with the full intention of integrating the operations once it is better able to satisfy corporate acquisition criteria. Often a spin-in can be a source of mavericks.