Iteration Kills…

Are you an innovation killer?

Reading a recent HBR article by Scott Antony titled how “Iteration” kills good ideas hit home with me as what is invention?  As in today’s bureaucratic business world innovation is not only stifled, the life is in fact stamped out of it and those who bring it forward.  Harsh words yes, however it’s been the reality I’ve witnessed for years and it doesn’t seem to be improving with time.  As bringing up any new ideas is a kin to saying those ideas of old are just “old” and therefore “bad“.  Thus the first thing the old school wants to do is shoot them down and the best way to do this is yes, “iterate” the life out of it.

As let’s wax a bit about how mature an “innovation” has to be, to be of value to a company.  As innovation is a life cycle investment and not an end product.  As for those old enough who remember the venerable disk drive of the past will recall the 8 inch floppy where we can ask why did we adopt this when we could have waited for the 3.5 inch to come and save us?  The answer is innovations are “iterative” in their “creations” and not there “implementation”.  Therefore the foundation of “innovation” is not just that point of time, however it’s “over time”.

In fact, look what’s happened to the disk drive as it’s gone the way of the dinosaurs and even its successor the optical disc is quickly following suit down the same road.  So how mature should it [the innovation] be before you start exchanging potential value (from the innovation) for political acceptance?

Also looping back to the “political” concept of “old ideas” which grew up to be the children of their creators at the time, make for strong support for the argument of managerial turn over every 18 to 24 months.  This allows space to be added between the “innovating parent” and the “innovation child” which results in  less resistance to change.  Also notice the suggested timing of turnover is critical and where you ask does this window come from?  The answer is simple, as Gordon Moore, as Moore’s Law now drives as our world as the “world” like it or not is addicted to the magic of the silicon wafer.

So the next time you’re presented with innovation, what will you do?  Will you beat it to death as it competes with your own innovation child who has grown long in the tooth or will you embrace it?  What about if you’re the innovator and your brain child is subject being drawn and quartered prior to seeing the light of day?  Can tell you how I would feel, as why waste the time…

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About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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