I’ve been sitting here bouncing to the sounds of Kid Sheik’s Storyville Ramblers on an old piece of vinyl and realized I have an admission to make.
Nothing will kill your business faster than innovation.
The record hisses and pops.
Two kinds can do you in. Effective innovation by someone else or unfettered, rabid innovation by you.
The former will happen no matter what, so you have to react (preferably proactively) and, uh-oh, innovate.
The old record only has a few plays left in it. It cackles and hisses, displaying 30 some odd years of use since I picked it up down in New Orleans after seeing the Sheik at some hall in my youth. Funny thing about vinyl, the wear it displays is a reminder of enjoyment past and a reminder that something new is due.
Yup, we’ve all got to move on to the next thing sooner or later.
That’s my gig in many ways. Helping companies break down barriers to innovation. Get the ideas flowing again. Fall out of love with the way you’re doing things now and focus on the things that actually make you great.
The toughest lesson for many is what happens once the ideas do begin to flow.
There are always too many good ideas.
Google unleashes huge amount of creative might with 80/20, but has discovered they can’t act on every great idea even with their resources. I wouldn’t be surprised if people leave because of that, taking their 20 elsewhere.
Rampant innovation without decision damages an organizations ability to deliver core promises. SKU creep, feature creep, customer creep, creepy creep. Creep indicates growth in complexity without thought. Creep indicates an unwillingness to kill ideas that fail or don’t fit (purposeful abandonment). Creep can destroy a firm’s core competencies and undermine the strategic advantages the creep was supposed to reinforce.
Jazz makes my mind wander, which has it’s advantages at times.
The point? How can you tell the difference between rabid innovation and innovation with focus?
- Do your initiatives big or small have a clear strategic purpose? (No better way to lose your way than moving without a map)
- Are sufficient infrastructure and resources available for your innovation? (Even in a world of cardboard creativity, you must be excellent in everything you do.)
- Is there clear reasoning for go/no go decisions and specific opportunities to make those decisions? (If you don’t know why or when an idea should die it will suck resources until your company is dead.)
Kid Sheik Boogie has all but disappeared behind the hiss of worn grooves. I’ll soon have to retire the platter for its digital cousin, which lacks the character of the well worn record. That hint of smoke filled rooms, overpriced Hurricanes, and good friends.
The cry for more innovation sometimes has that ring of a comfortable old record. But through the smoke and noise of a competitive marketplace it can be easy to miss what that cry actually means. It isn’t innovation for innovation’s sake. It isn’t innovation out of fear. It isn’t even a call for more. It is the call for strategically meaningful innovation that makes your company’s spark shine even brighter.
Time for another record. A bit of Marley and the Wailers sounds about right.