October 28, 2009

Process inhibits Innovation

I happened to be part of the debate organized by the CII, as part of Knowledge Management Summit. I was quite surprised (appalled, perhaps:-)) that most people confused Innovation with Adaptation, Optimization, Higher Efficiency etc.. And I am glad one of the speakers pointed out the folly and corrected the misconception. He was obviously arguing for the motion that Process inhibits Innovation.
Innovation, once done, can then be processed and optimized and customized etc.. But talking of innovating via process is crazy and impossible actually! Mr. Dave Snowden brought out the point quite elegantly by asking us to wonder how come Start-ups didn't have a Process Department:-), and he also illustrated with the example of 3M. When they had 15% of their time for innovation, they had new products, but with change in management and removal of 15%, innovation died.
Typically, small organizations encourage innovation and as they grow bigger and large, processes take over and innovation suffers. We have seen it so often in so many organizations. What is the guiding principle to continue to innovate, while growing, is a challenge for any management.
Needless to say, Mr. Snowden won the debate, hands down:-)

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