Innovation vs. Consistency

Series: product dev April 11, 2017

Mature organizations will usually have some process defined by which projects are executed. And they are probably time tested best practices, roles and tools that lead to the success of the organization in the first place. It’s what got them here.

Many of these same companies are now seeking innovation and believe that the same process can be employed to discover new results. They are finding out their beloved process won’t get them there.

The process acts like a guardrail on a high speed roadway allowing a large volume of traffic to flow quickly and safely. The process ensures that projects are completed quickly and consistently using best practices, well defined roles and common tools. But guardrails inhibit exploration, a necessary ingredient for discovery. So while this may be suitable for a production line like manufacturing it is not a fertile environment for innovation.

Then the guardrails must be removed. In a parking lot with no rules drivers are on full alert, edging forward slowly and crawling their way through the wide open spaces. When a small team is trusted to unplug from the process they will eagerly own their own undefined process. They will find new best practices, take on far broader roles, learn new tools and will be free to explore, experiment, fail and learn under their own autonomy. They may incur a few bumps and scratches as they make their way through to the other side of the parkade but they’re more likely to make it there with something new and innovative.

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