Disclaimer: The Dilbert® Life series is a string of post on corporate culture from hell and dysfunctional organizations running wild. This can be quite shocking and sobering. A sense of humor will help when reading this. If you need to live in a sugar coated world were all is well and bliss and think all you do is close to godliness, stop reading right now and forget about the blog entries. It’s going to be dark. Pitch black at times actually, with a twist of humor, if you can laugh at yourself.
Innovation As A Service for sale
Innovation! Get your fresh, real innovation right here ladies and gentlemen! Buy 3 innovations and pay only two! That’s right, the economies of scale at your fingertips. Get your innovation right here and now at pennies to the dollar!
You cannot buy innovation as a service. Maybe that’s why this website is painfully accurate. There is no such thing.
Results and success don’t come as the outcome of a process you can buy and follow. Creating some incubators, handing out some funds or price money isn’t going to help you innovate one bit.
This is especially true when you’re an organization that hasn’t got a culture to stimulate it. Not because culture will always determinate an outcome but because if your culture doesn’t evolve to enable what you need it probably isn’t a cause but a result. The result of lacking a real strategy.
When you’re not a small, agile, talent and motivation driven company it’s hard to become one by acquiring the resources (ideas, talent, motivation, products) you need. Many try but fail. Some succeed but even then it’s a time limited success. Innovation is an ongoing activity. Success is a temporary result. It’s not a long term, well defined and understood process or product. If it was it wouldn’t be innovative.
When you’re you need to optimize your processes or replace them if they can be optimized.
The organizational paradox
Innovation, or any “hot” item in business is like sex. The more people talk about it and want it the less it’s going to happen. This is frustrating too many so they try to facilitate or force some success. This leads to disappointing, second rate, clumsy and poor experiences compared to what it’s supposed to be.
As production, distribution and services are being disrupted by automation or even automatic / autonomous technology we see that profits come under stress. That means more with less, reduction of the work force & optimizing processes to reduce cost & optimize profits. This leads to more and more commodity driven businesses and organizations that are trying to compete on cost.
A magic word has appeared that’s supposed to deliver a prosperous future for all of us. All this while we save ourselves into poverty and reduce our value into nothing more than 1 or 2 % better efficiencies than any other organizations at delivering commodities. If you don’t have a factual (Energy, “to big to fail” banking, …) or legal (notaries, IRS, …) monopoly you have very little margin as an excuse for your existence. So now we all have to be innovative. Never mind that you’re in the least innovative business on earth. Innovation it is as everyone is doing it, has or wants it. So must we or we’re clearly “out of touch”.
Get in the ring!
Pretending to be a boxer is lots of fun until you have to get into the ring and fight. When you step into the ring and your opponent smacks you in the face even your best plans fall apart. Let alone that sorry excuses of a plan you have in lieu of training, skills and motivation.
It’s very hard for established, highly regulated companies to really innovate. They’re about avoiding risks, optimizing processes & following procedures. The aim is to get the best predictable results with the fewest cost & overhead as long as this doesn’t endanger the processes and regulations. It just isn’t compatible with agility and innovation.
Now some large organizations can deal with this and make it a success. It requires truly great strategies, strategists and some serious skills to make them materialize. Not a small feat to pull off! But way to many can’t. Nothing has eternal live. It’s even worse when such organizations make their innovation islands or incubators dependent on centralized, slow moving, process driven services & processes. That’s like swimming with an anvil tied around your ankle. Good luck!
Let small organizations exist. Give them the freedom and independency they need to function. This entire mindset of centralized large entities that are driven by economies of scale with a giant focus (or at least the pretense of that) on efficiency of what already exists is mind numbing to most of us. Let alone to the best and brightest. It only “rewards” the accountant mindset. Trying to fix this with “pockets” of innovation and agility is like a reservation. It keeps a species alive artificially but it doesn’t make that species have a future and be all it can be to fulfill its potential It rewards opportunists who claim to be pioneers. Those that want the benefits and rewards that comes with that status without having to do the hard work. It’s lip service, smoke and mirrors.
The fallacy of bimodal IT in this regard is that a schizophrenic organization, with only two opposite extremes, is supposed to transition the fruits between those two “just like that”. The entire process, the evolution required and the gradual cultural shifts to bring the results of agility and innovation to the process driven highly regulated side of the business is never ever discussed or mentioned.
That “integration” is supposed to happen naturally & apparently without issues or effort. That’s a very hard order to fill It’s as if you can zip up the files of your project and e-mail them to the regulated part of the business and that’s all what’s needed. At best they’ll give you SharePoint Online and claim they’ve dealt with that issue as they don’t use attachments anymore. And no, a “Chief Integration Officer” is not going to help. But I’m sure you’ll find plenty of candidates to fill that function when you attach a higher pay grade to it. But just like innovation we’ll see the call for “bimodal” it along with many practitioners, consultants and coaches selling it. The successes will be rare and hard to find.