Innovation vs. Improvement

Being on the Central time zone internally and Pacific time zone physically allows for waking up really early and pondering.  As I await the start of Salesforce Foundation’s Higher Ed Summit 2014 in Phoenix, I began reflecting on the few conversations I had with some of my colleagues regarding my last post, specifically the part about allowing customers to innovate being the only job of IT.

It became clear that what I consider to be innovation is not necessarily what others consider it to be as way too many people agreed with me, and in the meantime, I realized that I was too eager to publish my post and so was in error.

Ever since Apple began to dazzle us with their innovative prowess (and has since ceased to do so), innovation became this sexy term, much like leadership, that everyone began chasing after.  These two terms became the Holy Grail.  If a person or an organization was a leader, then it had to become innovative; if it were an innovator, then it had to become a leader; and if it were neither, then it had to become both, otherwise, it was doomed to fail (interesting to note here that I actually obtained a certificate in innovative leadership some years back.)

But as few people are truly innovative, the definition of innovation, IMHO, became deluded and first significant, then marginal, improvements became substitutes for true innovation.

To me, if your decision is supported by data, then you are not innovating.  The only data that can support true innovation, again IMHO, is that nobody else is doing it.  If you have data to support your decision, then you are making improvements.

Both of these, innovation and improvements, are hard.  Innovation requires tremendous comfort level with risk, and convincing of everyone, customers and team members, and potentially new ways of not only doing, but even thinking about things.  Improvement requires setting up the tools to  identify area of improvement, then convincing everyone that improvement is worthwhile making (had a discussion this week with a coworker who made the claim that everyone is convinced by facts and I actually laughed out loud), then actually making the improvement.  But they are worth doing, and they are not same things.  With that, I amend my IT mission statement to enabling our customers to improvement and innovate.


About Vadim

I'd like to have something really impressive to say here, but it's just not in the cards. Maybe later.
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