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A house in a swamp on stilts

Digital innovation might not mean what you think it does

We don’t get to call ourselves “innovative” unless what we’ve done delivers value. 

We, myself included, can sometimes confuse innovation with using the latest trendy tech. 

It may not be the right fit for your needs. It may complicate, mask or, even worse, amplify an already inefficient process.  

You may have seen “innovation” used as a way to try and distract others in the organisation from the real underlying problems that have proven too difficult or people have been unable, or unwilling to solve. 

This could be down to poor leadership or a department feeling pressure to perform, instead of getting their “house in order” which will, in turn, lead to better performance, they see “innovation” as a way out, a distraction or naively believe it’s the silver bullet they need. This is the wrong motivation and will likely lead to making things worse.

Innovation is about making a positive impact on your customers or the business and needs to be approached with the correct mindset and motivation.   If there is no value delivered there is no innovation.

No value delivered = zero innovation.

So how do you treat innovation differently in a way that actually delivers value?

  1. Focus on deeply understanding the customer problems you are trying to solve before thinking about solutions
  2. Test any assumptions you have by getting early versions of the solution or solutions into the wild (workshops and surveys won’t give you reliable evidence)
  3. Ensure you have the right foundations to support your efforts: empowered and trusted teams able to execute and adapt rapidly with bureaucracy minimised as much as possible.

You need to fully understand the problem you are trying to solve, and then test whether the new product, process or service is going to work with real users.

Jumping into the “hey look shiny stuff” technology trap won’t save things.

After all, slapping a new coat of paint on a house with weak foundations doesn’t fix the weak foundations. 

That house is still going to fall down eventually.

Posted in: Agile , Leadership , Productivity